Qualifiers - Group B: Yemen, Qatar wins set up Sunday showdown
Doha: Yemen and Qatar will play off for a direct place in AFC U-19 Championship Uzbekistan 2020 on Sunday, after both registered important wins on Matchday Two of Group B qualifying.
Yemen flew out of the blocks to beat Sri Lanka 3-0, before Qatar defeated Turkmenistan 4-1, leaving both teams on six points after two matches, with Qatar ahead on goal difference.
While all is still to play for Group B’s top two, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan remain winless, meaning their respective AFC U-19 Championship campaigns will end on Sunday.
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Sri Lanka 0-3 Yemen
Yemen had started well in their win over Turkmenistan 48 hours earlier, and they flew out of the gates again this time when Al Godaimah powerfully headed in a cross following a short corner routine to make it 1-0 after 12 minutes.
The lead was extended just six minutes later when Al Harbi outpaced the Sri Lankan defence before hammering the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle and an acrobatic volley from Mohammed Abdulwahab Al Thulaia very nearly added another goal shortly after
Sri Lankan captain Mohamed Shabeer tried to repeat the long-range goal he scored against Qatar on Wednesday, but it was Yemen who scored next when Sadeq poked in the third after Mohamed Mursith saved Al Godaimah’s initial headed effort in the 36th minute.
With goal difference potentially crucial in the final qualification picture, Yemen eagerly searched for more joy in front of goal but, while Sadeq and Tamer Nadhel Senan both had penalty appeals turned down, they were unable to add to their tally of three.
In fact, Shabeer was desperately unlucky not to pull a goal back for Sri Lanka when his inventive flick hit the woodwork in the dying stages of a match which Yemen largely controlled.
Turkmenistan 1-4 Qatar
A starring contribution from Qatar captain Naif Abdulraheem Al Hadhrami proved crucial for Qatar as the Group B hosts remained unbeaten with a 4-1 win over a determined Turkmenistan.
Al Hadhrami scored twice in a second half which produced all five of the game’s goals, twice giving Qatar the lead before striker Mekki Tombari took his tally to four in two matches with two late goals.
While Turkmenistan pushed the hosts for most of the contest, a second defeat in three days means their hopes of qualifying for next year’s Finals have been dashed with a game against Sri Lanka still to come.
With Qatar under pressure to match Yemen’s back-to-back wins, and Turkmenistan needing a result to stay in contention, the first half was an arm wrestle which produced nervous moments for both defences.
Odemyrat Annayev came close to nodding Turkmenistan into the lead, while Tombari was unlucky not score with a terrific turning half-volley, but neither side managed to find the net in an entertaining opening 45 minutes.
Al Hadhrami blew the game open in the 51st minute, finding the net with a sensational long-range piledriver which Turkmenistan goalkeeper Amanmuhammet Orayev found too hot to handle despite it coming from fully 35 yards out.
Qatari custodian Yousef Balideh made a stunning save to stop Rahman Myratberdiyev from equalising at the other end, but there was nothing he could to prevent Myratberdiyev from netting in the 58th minute, with the Turkmen striker leaving Baldieh rooted to the spot with a fine header.
With Qatari’s place on top of the group in danger, Al Hadhrami emerged as the game changer once again, latching onto an excellent low cross from Tombari to make it 2-1 just five minutes later, before Tombari gave the hosts breathing space with another goal in the 68th minute, with Turkmenistan’s defence paying the price for switching off to allow Jassim Mohammed Al Mehairi to deliver a pinpoint cross.
Turkmenistan were given an unexpected opportunity when Qatar’s Mohamed Aiash was sent off for a second bookable offence with 18 minutes remaining, but Tombari quashed any chance of a revival when he timed his run to perfection to make it 4-1 for the hosts.
With Qatar’s points safe, all now hinges on Sunday’s group decider, where a Qatari win or draw against Yemen will secure the a place in the AFC U-19 Championship Uzbekistan 2020.
The 11 group winners and four best runners-up will join hosts Uzbekistan in the 2020 Finals.
Tajikistan have already qualified as Group C winners and should Uzbekistan finish either top of Group F of the Qualifiers or are among the best four second-placed teams, the fifth best runners-up will qualify.
Group A of the Qualifiers - featuring Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Kuwait and Pakistan - will be played on November 22-30 in Muscat, Oman.
Photos: Qatar Football Association
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