AFC ASIAN QUALIFIERS ROAD TO QATAR
Muscat – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Tuesday confirmed that Qatar’s capital Doha will serve as the neutral venue for Australia for the upcoming AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Group B match against Oman on October 7.
The Group B home game for Australia was initially planned to be played in Sydney but with COVID-19 travel restrictions in place Down Under, the match was unlikely to be held there.
Football Australia was in close touch with the Australian government to host the match at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney but a plan to work through the nation’s COVID-19 restrictions couldn’t materialise. The Australian football authorities were trying to get a ‘travel bubble’ organised in for Socceroos and Oman players, with the measures designed to avoid two weeks of quarantine for combatants on their arrival in Australia.
Oman will now play the Socceroos at Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium with the kick-off at 10.30pm (Oman time). Asian heavyweights Australia, who are currently Group B leaders after registering successive victories in September’s opening round of matches, as well as Iraq, who have registered a point in Group A, will both continue to play their home matches at a neutral venue, according to AFC on Tuesday.
Oman, coached by Croatia’s Branko Ivankovic, are currently camping in Qatar and had played an international friendly against Nepal as part of the preparations for the Australia match at the Qatar University ground on
Sunday. The Red Warriors posted a thumping 7-2 win over the minnows and the large victory margin sure to serve as a morale-booster ahead of the tougher task against Australia.
After the clash against the Socceroos, Oman will host Vietnam at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC) on
October 12. Against Nepal, Fahmi Said gave Oman the lead nine minutes into the match before Mohsin Jawhar doubled the advantage at the half-hour mark, with Nepal pulling a goal back five minutes before the break.
Oman were at their best in the second half with Jawhar scoring his second in the 46th minute and Mohsin al Ghassani making it 4-1 three minutes later.
Abdulaziz al Miqbali scored a brace in the 60th and 65th minutes to erase the disappointment of missing a sitter against Saudi Arabia in the qualifier earlier this month. Jameel al Yahmadi made it 7-1 in the 76th minute with Nepal scoring a consolation six minutes from time.
Earlier this month, Oman lost to Saudi Arabia 0-1 at the SQSC in a hard-fought match. The match against the Saudis was the first competitive match for Oman at home since October 2019 and saw a 10,000-strong crowd attend the game.
The Red Warriors had begun the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar campaign on a rousing note as they stunned Asian No 1 side and former Asian champions Japan 1-0 in Osaka. It was the first-ever win for Oman over Japan with the two sides having met eight times in the qualifiers over the past 16 years with Oman losing six and
Oman are third in the Group B table with three points, the same as Japan. Australia top the table with six points, the same as Saudi Arabia, but the former have better goal-difference.