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Emirati reprieve, Iraqi misfortune: 5 things learned from the last Asian qualifiers for Qatar 2022

RIYAD: Asia passed the halfway point of World Cup qualifying on Tuesday and the picture becomes clearer with the game.

Here are five lessons from the latest action involving Arab nations.

1. Ali Mabkhout saves UAE World Cup dreams and more

It could be that next November in Qatar, the team will look back on this 1-0 victory over Lebanon and see it as a turning point in their journey to a second World Cup appearance. It could happen, but looking back, the referee’s decision with five minutes remaining was crucial.

Lebanon were in the lead, certainly in terms of chances created, but the official judged defender Abbas Asi had made a dangerous tackle in the box and awarded a penalty to the UAE, which seemed soft. No one in white cared because he was coldly stroked by Ali Mabkhout.

At this point, points are by far the most important thing for a team that had collected a meager three in the first five games.

The UAE had more possession but did little. If the home side had only seized one of their chances and won it surely would have been a curtain for the visitors and possibly for coach Bert van Marwijk given the two-month gap before the next round of matches.

Even a draw might have led to the same result, but now all of a sudden the UAE are third, and as South Korea and the automatic qualifier are eight points ahead, the play-offs are in sight. and with players returning from injury for the January games. then maybe there will be still brighter times around the corner.

2. The late drama costs Lebanon again but there is still hope

Had the final minutes gone a little differently against Iran on Thursday and against the UAE on Tuesday, Lebanon could sit with nine points (or even 11) and still be roughly in touch for second place. As it stands, they lost 2-1 and now 1-0 and only have five.

The Cedars will highlight the soft penalty imposed on visitors late, a handball kick on goal that was not awarded even later and an earlier free kick that crashed into the crossbar, but in the end. , it came to nothing.

The squad continues to be lively, difficult to face and well organized, but the point total does not yet reflect these performances.

There is still time and hope as third place is only a point away, and with Sonny Saad increasingly energetic and dangerous in attack, anything can happen.

Three of the remaining four games are at home and Lebanon have shown that with a little more focus, focus and, maybe, fitness, there is no reason they can’t collect the points needed to take third place. This has always been the goal and remains realistic.

3. Oman gives up the race but can be proud

It was going to be difficult for Oman to repeat their shock 1-0 victory over Japan in the group opener and it turned out to be an equal-score loss in Muscat. Third place, still by far, now slips out of sight.

The Samurai Blue were determined not to underestimate the Reds, and they were always going to want revenge for that loss. The first half was a pretty lukewarm affair, but Japan really started to put the pressure on after the break. Oman goalkeeper Fay Al-Rashidi has done his best and the rest of the squad have never stopped trying to keep the Asian giants, with all their stars based in Europe, at bay.

In truth, Oman could not have done more. They can be proud not only to have beaten Japan in September, but to give them once again a very good game.

4. The question is why Iraq did not ask South Korea any questions?

After that lukewarm 3-0 defeat to South Korea, Iraq may well see these final moments against the United Arab Emirates, when they let slip what would have been a vital victory in the final moments, as a turning point. But in truth, they just haven’t done enough in the group.

It was obvious Tuesday. The Mesopotamian Lions were playing in Doha five days earlier as Korea was in action across the continent, yet it was Iraq that seemed lacking in energy and intensity.

There was not enough intensity or ambition. This was again the case against the Taeguk Warriors and there was again a debate on the selections of Dick Advocaat, notably with Ali Adnan. The full-back has hardly played club football lately and looked slow and out of rhythm. Handing over the penalty which took South Korea’s lead to two goals only added insult to injury.

This ended the game as a contest, but it never really started.

5. Almost the end of the road to Syria

Syria took third place last time around and pushed Australia to the end of the dams, but the same spirit of that team seems to have faded, as was evident in a 3-0 loss to Iran. That leaves the Qasioun Eagles on the ground with just two points in six games.

There is still some talent but at the back against Iran which was not at best, Syria was poor and simply sought to prevent the opposition from playing without really providing any kind of platform to build on. a significant attack.

Just after the half hour, a single ball over the top caught up to the defense and Sardar Azmoun didn’t have to ask twice. This was the goal the Iranians needed, and Syria had to come out more than they wanted. The match ended with a penalty which came before the break.


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