Qatar book semi-final spot and ticket to FIFA U-20 WC
Qatar progressed to the semi-finals of the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 yesterday thanks to a 7-3 extra-time win over Thailand that also saw them book a spot at next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.
After a cautious opening to proceedings at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, it was Qatar who struck first, Hashim Ali making the most of Anuson Jaiphet’s wayward defensive pass to curl a sublime shot beyond Thailand goalkeeper Nopphon Lakhonphon in the 13th minute.
With Thailand already on the backfoot, the West Asians wasted little time in doubling their advantage, this time Nasser al-Yazidi – starting his first game of the competition – scoring with aplomb following Abdulrasheed Umaru’s excellent run eight minutes later.
At the scene of their remarkable 6-5 group stage defeat of host nation Indonesia, Qatar continued to press as first al-Yazidi fired narrowly over the bar from an angle and then Khaled Saleh forced Nopphon into a fine sprawling save shortly after the half-hour mark.
In the final minutes of what had been an excellent first period for the Qataris, Saleh went close again with a driven effort from distance, before Thailand spurned their first genuine chance of the game, Salah Zakaria diving at the feet of Korawich Tasa when the striker was clean through on goal.
Thailand refused to buckle after the break, and they reduced the deficit within three minutes of the restart as Korawich Tasa raced onto Kittipong Sansanit’s astute pass and planted a firm shot past Zakaria.
For a moment, Qatar – possibly remembering their second half struggles against Indonesia – were rocked, and Korawich almost restored parity on 56 minutes only to see his delicate lob over Zakaria land inches wide of the far post.
Sensing a way back into the game was there for the taking, Thailand dramatically drew level on 61 minutes as Ahmed al-Minhali’s clearance fell to Sakunchai Saengthopho who brilliantly found the top corner from 20 yards. Thirapak Prueangna then lashed home Ekanit Panya’s delivery to put Thailand ahead with only 10 minutes remaining, before Ahmed Suhail found the net with a sublime free-kick to throw Qatar a lifeline and send the game to extra-time.
With both sides understandably tired, Qatar duly regained the advantage on 99 minutes, Umaru sliding the ball past Nopphon after being found by Mohamed Waad Abdulwahhab to register his sixth goal of the campaign.
Khaled Mansour then struck within the opening seconds of the second period of extra-time, Umaru added a sixth and Youssef Ayman bagged another in the final seconds to eventually seal Qatar’s victory and edge his side closer to continental glory and guarantee themselves a fourth appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
- Bruno Pinheiro - Qatar head coach
“We are of course very proud to be going to the FIFA U-20 World Cup. All of Qatar will be proud of the players. We now have three days to recover both physical and mentally before our semi-final. Our target now is, of course to reach the final, because when you are in the last four, that is all you want to do – win the game and be in the final.”
- Ithsara Sritharo - Thailand head coach
“Overall, I feel we have an excellent experience playing here in Indonesia. We can take plenty of positives away with us from this tournament – positives which we hope will help the team grow stronger and become better players going into their next competition.”