Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Doha: Yemen put themselves in pole position for a place in the second round of joint-qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup with a 3-1 win over Pakistan in the first leg of their first round fixture on Thursday.
Yemen were gifted the opportunity to take an early lead at the Grand Hamad Stadium in the Qatari capital when they were awarded a third-minute penalty, which was successfully converted by midfielder Abdulwasea Al Matari.
Yemen extended their advantage 11 minutes into the second half through defender Mohammed Ali Boqshan before Pakistan pulled one back in the 67th minute after Jordanian referee Mohammad Mousa Abu Loum awarded his second penalty of the match.
But just two minutes after Pakistan captain Hassan Naweed Basheer had reduced the deficit, Yemen restored their two-goal cushion through substitute Ala Abdullah Al Sasi, who took to the field 12 minutes earlier to replace fellow midfielder Fuad Saleh Al Omaisi, to give the Gulf nation a healthy advantage to take to Lahore for the second leg at the Punjab Stadium on Tuesday.
The six Round 1 winners will advance to the second round where the 34 highest-ranked teams await. The 40 nations will be drawn into eight groups of five teams and compete according to a double round robin format.
The Round 2 qualification matches will be held between June 11, 2015 and March 29, 2016.
The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup finals.