Group D: Lebanon 2-1 Jordan
Taipei: Lebanon fought back from a goal down to score a 2-1 win over Jordan and claim top spot in Group D of the AFC Futsal Championship 2018 on Tuesday.
Lebanon’s reward is a quarter-final tie with Iraq on Thursday. Iraq finished second in Group C.
Jordan took the lead with Abdel Samara finding the back of the net in the 13th minute, but Lebanon bounced back with Ali El Homsi finding the equaliser before the half-time whistle and Ali Tneich sealed their win with a close range effort.
Lebanon knew a win would secure them a spot in the quarter-finals, and played with the same intensity they had shown in their win against Thailand, dominating possession while Jordan looked to hit on the counter.
Samara and Mu’Taz Mohammad displayed great synergy between them, and in the 13th minute, they combined beautifully on a counter attack with Samara intercepting a pass, sending it to his teammate in the attacking third, before getting the ball back to finish sweetly to open the scoring.
It was shortlived joy however, as El Homsi seized a golden opportunity and fired a superb strike into the top right to equalise two minutes later, while Tneich came close just moments later to giving Lebanon the lead but struck the woodwork.
Shahab Sofalmanash’s side had almost a free reign of the ball, and six minutes into the second half, Tneich’s shot hit the crossbar again but a minute later, he made no mistake from close range to make it 2-1 for Lebanon.
Shahab Sofalmanesh: Lebanon Head Coach
“It was normal that after our game against Thailand and Kyrgyz Republic, our players would be tired. But the number of the goals were not important, and what was more important was to keep our players safe. Jordan were really good, they played zonal defence behind the box really well. And it’s hard to score against a team who are so compact. At the end of the day, we tried to keep the ball the most. I believe we played really smart and our players showed their intelligence in this game.”
Saleh Abu Jafer: Jordan Head Coach
“We played really good today, better than our first two games. Even with the little preparation, we still did really well. Coming into the match, we knew we had no chance to advance, but our players still gave everything. And we also gave the opportunity to our younger players to play, who are less experienced and more prone to mistakes. In the future, we will need to compete more, not just in AFC tournaments, but also in international friendlies, and that is crucial if we want to improve. We are going to aim for the next FIFA Futsal World Cup, but also focus on our local league where we will develop our younger players.”