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MD3 - Group E: Oman 3-0 Afghanistan

Muscat: Oman added yet more momentum to their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers campaign on Tuesday after a 3-0 defeat of Afghanistan saw them maintain their challenge towards the top of the Group E standings.

Abdulaziz Al Muqbali scored twice and Mohsin Al Ghassani converted from the spot for Oman as Erwin Koeman’s charges made it two wins from two on a night when, after initially failing to find their rhythm, they emerged worthy winners.

Following on from their 2-1 win against India on Matchday One, the success leaves Oman occupying second place in the standings, one point behind group leaders Qatar who claimed a 2-0 victory away in Bangladesh earlier in the day.

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After a spell of early pressure, Oman struggled to truly impose themselves on Afghanistan’s resolute defence and they were forced to wait until the 27th minute before taking the lead, Abdulaziz Al Muqbali leaping superbly to head home Ali Al Busaidi’s cross from the left.

Moments later, yet more heroic Afghan defending resulted in a fierce Al Muqbali drive being blocked, while the livewire Al Mundhir Al Alawi dragged a shot wide of the target when well placed.

With half-time approaching, the seemingly omnipresent Al Muqbali duly notched his second of the game as the Al Suwaiq forward powered home another header to double his side’s advantage.

Two subsequently became three for Oman 16 minutes into the second period, Mohsin Al Ghassani picking himself up to convert a penalty after he had been upended in the area by Zelfy Nazary.

As Oman looked for a fourth, Al Muqbali then inexplicably failed to make proper contact with a shot when only six yards out and Al Busaidi struck Afghanistan goalkeeper’s Ovays Azizi’s right-hand post with a whipped cross.

Afghanistan remained firm for the rest of the encounter, but it ultimately mattered little to the Omanis who were, in truth, rarely troubled by their South Asian visitors.

Oman return to action on Tuesday when they travel to play table-topping Qatar, while Afghanistan are now not scheduled to play again until they host India in the neutral venue of Dushanbe on November 14.

Photos: Oman Football Association

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