Muscat – Oman coach Branko Ivankovic will be happy to see his boys pick vital three points after defeating Vietnam 3-1 for their second win in Group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday. However, the experienced Croatian will be a tad disappointed with his players’ overall performance after the scrappy win, given that the Red Warriors had put up much-improved display in the previous three games.
Oman went into the match after suffering two successive defeats, though they began their campaign with a stunning 1-0 win against hosts Japan.
The home side started brightly and were rewarded for their early attacking forays with a penalty at the quarter-hour mark when Ho Tan Tài brought down defender Ali al Busaidi inside the box.
Oman’s Mohsin Jawhar stepped up to take the spot-kick but skied his shot high over the cross far to the disappointment of the large crowd at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Oman Football Association (OFA) had permitted 50% attendance for the game and the local fans turned up in good numbers to cheer their side.
Ho Tan Tài and Busaidi were again in the heart of the action as the Vietnamese midfielder dispossessed the Omani defender deep inside the latter’s half, then fired an effort that was parried by goalkeeper Faiz al Rusheidi but only as far as Nguyen Tien Linh who slammed home Vietnam’s opener in the 39th minute.
The visitors’ joy lasted just seven minutes as Issam al Subhi, the hero of Japan’s victory, pounced on a loose ball inside the Vietnam penalty box, sending a spectacular bicycle kick into the back of the net to bring Oman level in added time of the first half.
The hosts picked up right where they left off after the restart, taking the lead four minutes into the second half. Jawhar made amends for his penalty miss and did so in style curling straight from the corner kick into the roof of the net.
Coach Ivankovic’s men cemented their win just after the hour mark as Do Duy Manh apprehended Jamal al Yahmadi inside the penalty area and Salah al Yahyaei slotted home Oman’s third of the night. The win means Oman overtake Japan into third place, with both sides having picked up six points, but Oman hold the advantage of their win in Japan as well as more goals scored. Oman next travel to China for November 11 game.
In a late game in Group B, Saudi Arabia tightened their grip at the top with a 3-2 win over China at home.
(Inputs from www.the-afc.com)