U-19s top group in AFC championship
Bogor: Qatar progressed into the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 quarter-finals on Wednesday as a hard-fought 4-0 win over a resilient Chinese Taipei helped them finish top of a tight Group A that saw three teams finish tied on six points.
A flurry of second half goals ensured the nervy victory for Qatar who had gone into the game knowing that only a win would have guaranteed them a ticket through to the last eight.
In the end, Qatar assumed pole position by the narrowest of margins after scoring more goals than either second-placed Indonesia or the United Arab Emirates in the games between the trio.
The 2014 title winners will now meet the yet to be decided runners-up in Group B, with Sunday’s encounter sure to be a titanic tussle given that both a spot in the semi-finals and a berth at next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup will be up for grabs.
On what proved to be a tense night of football, Qatar came close to breaking the deadlock on 11 minutes when Abdulrasheed Umaru thumped a fierce angled drive against the bar, before goalkeeper Li Guan-Pei did well to deny Mohammed Waad Abdulwahhab and Umaru in quick succession shortly after.
Umaru was once again foiled by Li in the 27th minute, while Hashim Ali’s clever flick from a corner failed to beat the alert Chinese Taipei custodian shortly after half-hour mark.
In the final moments of what had proved to be a dominant yet decidedly frustrating half for the Qataris, Li did supremely well to repel a rasping Umaru drive from 12 yards and Ahmed Suhail planted a header narrowly wide of the target much to his annoyance.
Qatar’s ascendancy showed no sign of abating, but more resolute Chinese Taipei defending forced them to wait until the 57th minute before taking the lead with substitute Khaled Mansour drilling a shot across Li and into the net.
With Chinese Taipei’s resolve clearly broken and the East Asians failing to must a genuine opportunity of their own, Qatar added a second through Hashim Ali courtesy of a deft finish four minutes later.
As chances became few and far between, Qatar pressed for a third and it duly came with 13 minutes remaining, Hashim Ali bagging his second of the game with a delightful curling effort that beat Li’s despairing dive.
Qatar rounded off the scoring on 86 minutes when Umaru expertly converted a penalty after Khaled Mohammed had been brought down in the area by Chiu Po-Jui.