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Thimphu: Coach Abdel Nasser Barakat knows Palestine must discover their scoring touch despite edging closer to a second consecutive AFC Asian Cup Finals appearance with a 2-0 win over Bhutan on Tuesday.

Yaser Islame and Abdallatif Albahdar scored in the second half at Changlimithang Stadium as 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifier Palestine maintained a perfect record in Group D after opening their campaign with a 3-0 away win over the Maldives and 2-1 home win over Oman.

But having failed to turn a dominant first half display into a breakthrough against Bhutan, Barakat’s side will need to learn how to turn possession into goals if they are to challenge at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Finals in the United Arab Emirates should they convert their three-point lead over Oman at the top of Group D into qualification.

“It was a very tough game for us and Bhutan played really well. We must give credit to the Bhutan coach as he capitalised on our mistakes,” said Palestine coach Barakat.

“We wanted three points and got them, but in a very difficult way as Bhutan have improved a lot.”

Palestine qualified for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 2015 having won the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup and lost all three games in Australia - scoring once and conceding 11 in defeats by Japan, Jordan and Iraq.

“We had so many chances and we missed many which gave Bhutan a confidence boost to play well,” added Barakat.

With second placed Oman beating the Maldives 5-0 in Muscat, Palestine crucially moved six points clear of third place side the Maldives with three games remaining and the top two securing qualification to the expanded 24-team tournament.

Bhutan, meanwhile, suffered a third defeat in as many games to remain rooted to the foot of the Group D table having also lost 14-0 to Oman and 2-0 to the Maldives.

Torsten Frank Spittle’s side have shown marked improvements since their heavy opening defeat by Oman in March, having qualified for the final round of qualifiers with a play-off success over Bangladesh last year.

“I am a little bit disappointed with the result. We could have scored, but I see lots of maturity,” said Bhutan coach Spittle.

“We had them on the back foot many times, but we failed to capitalise on their mistakes.

“It was a very different situation, but better than the last two matches.”

Oman’s win saw Pim Verbeek’s second placed side bounce back from June’s 2-1 away defeat by Palestine to sit three points clear of the Maldives at the halfway stage.

“The match was not easy for us. We scored a goal in the first half and tried to score more, but we were unlucky and missed several chances which could have helped us to increase the tally,” said Oman captain Ahmed Mubarak.

“In the second half we managed to score four goals and the most important thing for us was to get the three points.

“The next match will be in Maldives and we will try to continue with the same performance that we had.”

Photos: Bhutan Football Federation 

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