Oman edge Taipei in thriller

Oman staved off a spirited challenge from Chinese Taipei to register a thrilling 4-3 win in their opening match of the men’s hockey Asian Games Qualifiers at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Thursday. Rashad al Fazari’s (14th, 58th) brace and goals from Imad al Hasani (41st) and Asaad Mubarak al Qasmi (51st) helped Oman to victory.
In the one-sided first match of the tournament, Sri Lanka thrashed Kazakhstan 6-0.
In the second match, Oman were trying to make inroads in the initial minutes of the game with Khalid al Shaaibi and Ahmed al Balushi down the left flank.
Some mispasses were the undoing for Oman and Chinese Taipei’s defence was holding strong too.
Oman were trying hard to break the deadlock with some attacking moves through the midfield by Asaad Mubarak al Qasmi and skipper Mahmood al Hasni.
In the 14th minute, Rashad al Fazari sounded the board in a close finish past Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Po-Wen Pan.
Oman were in an aggressive mood after the crucial first goal and straightaway went on the offensive at the beginning of the second quarter.
Chinese Taipei were struggling to contain the onslaught of the Omani strikers Asaad and Marwan al Raisi.
In the 22nd minute, Oman were awarded a penalty corner which they failed to convert, an area where Oman is a work in progress.
In the 27th minute, Oman struck the board but the goal was ruled out after the ball was deemed to have been higher than the pole.
Khalid al Shaaibi was nearly there in terms of giving Oman a two-goal lead but missed out in the 30th minute.
As the third quarter was about to commence, Chinese Taipei were looking for the elusive equaliser and Oman wanted to close the game out.
Oman were cranking up the pressure on the Chinese Taipei defence with some skillful manoeuvres in the
midfield.
Imad al Hasani and Younis al Nofli were tormenting the Chinese Taipei defenders with their one-twos and deft stickwork.
Chinese Taipei were trying to break free with some long passes and artistry in the central midfield but Oman were watertight in defence.
The visitors struck the equaliser in the 36th minute through Chia-Ching Huang after a tussle with the Omani defensive formation.
Imad al Hasani was in fine knick and he put Oman ahead again with a close range shot in the 41st minute.
With score reading 2-1, Oman were going for the kill with an all-out attacking approach.
The challenge for Oman going into the fourth and final quarter was not relaxing on the lead and letting Chinese Taipei come back into the game.
In the 47th minute, Rashad was unable to score off an easy opportunity and Oman kept pressing.
Chinese Taipei were doing all they could to make another comeback in the game and counter-attacks followed.
However, Oman took the game away from Chinese Taipei with a fine goal from Asaad Mubarak al Qasmi in the 51st minute.
It was 3-1 and Chinese Taipei had the writing on the wall.
Just when it looked Oman would coast to victory, An-Szu Li converted a penalty stroke in the 53rd minute.
The game was going down to the wire and Oman had to stave off a spirited Chinese Taipei resurgence.
Rashad struck his second goal in the 58th minute but Chin-Che Hu hit back immediately after to give Oman some tense moments but they held on for a much deserved victory.

Today’s matches

At Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex
Pool A
Hong Kong vs Afghanistan (6 pm)
Bangladesh vs Thailand (8 pm)