Oman post scrappy win over Afghans

MUSCAT – Goals from Mohsen Jowhar and Said al Ruzaiqi helped Oman beat Afghanistan 2-0 in their international friendly match at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bausher, here on Wednesday.
Jowhar (44th) struck late into first half while Ruzaiqi netted in the 55th minute in what was a pretty drab and average game by Oman’s standards.
Oman predictably attacked the inexperienced Afghan defence early on through Ahmed Kanu and Mohsen Jowhar.
Afghanistan were under pressure from the Oman forwards and the Afghan defenders Mustafa Zazayi and Mazyar Khoyar had a lot of work to do.
Muhanna al Mukhaini was active on the left wing for Oman and tried to make some inroads into the Afghanistan box. The Afghans were making it tough for the Omanis.
In the 24th minute, Oman had their first shot on goal when Khaled al Hajiri broke free and fired a right footer that was well saved by Afghanistan goalkeeper Pogaz Azizi.
Afghanistan also attempted to penetrate the Oman defence through Farhad Noor. Noor made a fine run down the left wing in the 28th minute but the Oman defence stood tall thwarting his advance.
The game moved at a slow pace as both teams struggled to open the account and bring some life into the game. Oman would construct a good move but would falter at the last hurdle while the Afghans were struggling to keep possession.
In the 42nd minute, Oman came close when Jameel al Yahmadi smashed a shot that was marginally wide off the Afghan far post. It was the closest either side came to taking the lead as the first half came to a close.
Jowhar netted the elusive first goal in the 44th minute for Oman as the home team went into the break with the lead. At the resumption, Oman continued their surge and it was Ali al Busaidy who was in attacking mode.
Al Busaidy made a run through midfield and pushed the Afghans on the backfoot but failed to make headway further.
Afghanistan tried to infuse energy into their fagging fortunes when Sharif Mohammad manoeuvred and troubled the Oman defence.
Oman then compounded Afghanistan’s misery as Said al Ruzaiqi slotted home in the 55th minute for a 2-0 advantage.
With the lead doubled, Oman were relentless in their pursuit of more goals and the Afghans had to constantly be on alert. The Afghans tried to counter-attack and the ball rolled the other way for a change but finding a goal was tough.
But one mention must surely be made about the fighting spirit of the Afghans. Oman were certainly not having it easy despite having a two-goal lead and their tails up.
However, Oman kept on searching and probing for gaps that would fetch them more goals. But Afghanistan tightened their defence to minimise the damage that Oman could inflict.
As the game wore to a close, with three minutes of stoppage time, both teams threw themselves around the ball even more.
There was nothing dramatic in stoppage time as Oman emerged deserved victors.

Haridev Pushparaj