Hosts and defending champions Qatar grew to become the primary group to succeed in the knockout rounds of the Asian Cup on Wednesday, however China must battle it out to hitch them after successive 0-0 attracts.
Qatar was left red-faced after shedding all three matches on the 2022 house World Cup, the worst efficiency by any host within the competitors’s historical past.
They then axed Carlos Queiroz early final month and changed the previous Actual Madrid coach with Tintin Marquez in a last-minute gamble.
To this point it has paid off: Qatar adopted their 3-0 win over Lebanon with a 1-0 victory over Asian Cup newcomers Tajikistan in entrance of 55,000 spectators on the tent-like Al Bayt Stadium.
Livewire ahead Akram Afif, who scored twice within the opening sport of the event, hit what proved to be the winner with one other medical end.
The ahead raced onto a by means of ball from Almoez Ali within the seventeenth minute earlier than deftly slotting it previous Tajikistan goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov.
The Central Asians completed with 10 males after Amadoni Kamolov was despatched off for kicking at Ahmed Al-Ganehi’s face late within the match, the primary dismissal of the competitors.
Qatar’s win sees them by means of as winners of Group A with a sport to spare, however whoever progresses with them will push it to the restrict.
Within the remaining spherical of the group on Monday, Qatar will play China, whereas Tajikistan will face Lebanon.
Regardless of two torpid 0-0 attracts, China are in pole place to advance towards the house group.
China has two factors, Tajikistan and Lebanon every on one.
Solely the highest two are sure of the knockouts.
– ‘Lengthy street’ –
China may benefit if the house aspect determine to relaxation gamers as coach Aleksandar Jankovic seems to keep away from the ignominy of group stage elimination.
After a goalless draw towards Tajikistan to begin their marketing campaign, China failed to fireplace once more with a 0-0 stalemate towards Lebanon on Wednesday.
Decrease-placed Lebanon hit China’s crossbar twice, whereas the Chinese language acquired an effort off the road in an entertaining encounter.
Nevertheless it was finally one other anticlimax for Chinese language soccer, which is reeling from a match-fixing scandal at house.
“Ultimately we did not win, however we confirmed a great mentality, a superb perspective and an incredible struggle,” stated the under-pressure Serbian Jankovic.
“The street continues to be lengthy and the purpose is identical: to play within the knockout part.”
Like Jankovic, opponent Miodrag Radulovic felt his Lebanese group had performed sufficient to win the match, however was glad with an “essential” level.
“We did not rating, however I am pleased as a result of we’re nonetheless within the event going into the final match,” he stated.
“I will simply end it. If we enhance this, we’ll win the sport.”
There are three matches on Thursday, beginning with Syria towards Australia, one of many title candidates.
India will play Uzbekistan in the identical group earlier than Palestine takes on the United Arab Emirates within the remaining match of the day.