Oman assured of spot in AFC U-16 finals in Malaysia

MUSCAT, Sept 25 – Oman is all but assured of a place in the AFC U-16 Championship 2018 Malaysia after narrowly missing against hosts Tajikistan by 1-0 in their final Group B match qualifiers in Hisor.
Oman’s superior goal-difference (13) make them favourites to be among one of the five best second-placed finishers in the qualifiers.
Oman scored 14 goals and conceded one in the qualifiers.
With only Group H to be completed, Thailand (Group G) have better goal-average than Oman (16), while Saudi Arabia in Group A (13), championship hosts Malaysia (14) in Group J and Vietnam (10) in Group I are the only serious contenders for the spots.
In Hisor, Tajikistan finished their campaign with a perfect record of three wins, courtesy of a late goal from Isroil Kholov (No 22).
In the other inconsequential match, Syria earned their first win beating Maldives 6-0.
In a high pressured match for top spot, Oman and Tajikistan were evenly matched in possession and skill.
Both sides had opportunities, but their respective defences kept things at a standstill. Even after the restart, the deadlock continued despite Oman be the aggressors — a tactic which would come back to haunt them.
Tajikistan’s turning point came in the 76th minute when they were awarded a free kick after Issa al Naabi’s harsh tackle on Rustam Soirov.
Sharifbek Rahmatov’s cross into the box was perfect for Kholov to score the winning goal.
In their earlier group matches, Oman had blanked Syria 6-0, while Tajikistan hammered Maldives 14-0.
Australia, DPR Korea, Japan, Jordan, Iraq, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Tajikistan and Yemen confirmed their spots by winning their respective groups. Hosts Malaysia qualify automatically.
The Group H matches will end on September 29.