Defending champs Qatar get wake-up call from India before prevailing

DEFENDING champions Qatar were given an almighty fright by India yesterday before sending them to the verge of elimination from the Asian Games tournament, with Bangladesh also looking at an early trip home.

India took the lead but the Qataris battled back to score twice in the last 10 minutes of their Group D game and secure a 2-1 win. It left the Indians with no points and virtually no hope of qualifying for the knockout rounds.

Singapore are also in trouble after crashing 2-0 to Kuwait, leaving them with just a point to show from their two games and a must-win clash with India tomorrow.

The Kuwaiti win, secured with first-half goals by Ali Almaqseed and Mashari Alazmi, ensured they booked their place in the last 16.

Thailand also stayed on course with a 1-1 draw against Oman, but coach Bryan Robson, the former England skipper, was disappointed not to have clinched three points.

Bangladesh lost 3-0 to the United Arab Emirates.

In other games, Hong Kong’s Chan Wai Ho struck a 60th minute winner to give them a crucial 1-0 victory over Uzbekistan, while the Maldives and Pakistan ground out a scoreless draw.

Qatar created the best of the first-half chances, but the champions were made to pay for their wastefulness when India snatched the lead in the 18th minute.

Qatar failed to clear a corner and Ravanan Dharmaraj managed to bundle the ball past goalkeeper Sofyan Ahmed.

The Gulf side, coached by former Ajax and Porto boss Co Adriaanse, put the brittle Indian defence under siege in the second half and their resistance was finally broken with 10 left when Ali Jaralla looped a header into the net.

Jaralla then grabbed the winner two minutes from time with a left-foot shot which found the corner of the net.

“The boys did their best,” said India coach Sukhvinder Singh.

“Qatar are a better side. We tried to minimise our mistakes but we had a problem with the defence.”

Adriaanse insisted that being defending champions poses no problems for his side.

“We are not facing Brazil or Germany,” he said.

Oman’s Amer Al Shatri gave Thailand, who had crushed Pakistan 6-0 in their opener, a fifth-minute lead when he scored an own goal. But Moatasim Al Mukhaini levelled just before the break for his second goal of the tournament.

Robson said there were elements of Thailand’s game that needed to improve.

“We scored some fantastic goals against Pakistan and the players today got a bit carried away,” he said.

“I must say I’m disappointed with the quality of the crosses.”

Oman held on for a point despite having skipper Mohammed Al Jaber sent off in the 20th minute for a foul on Anawein Jujeen on the edge of the box.

In the day’s other early fixture, United Arab Emirates cruised past Bangladesh 3-0 with Abdalla Fawzi getting a brace and Ahmed Al Jenaiby scoring another in the second half.

The top two and four of the best third-placed teams from the six groups advance to the round of 16. — AFP

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