Oman hold nerves to clinch 2019 Airmarine Cup

Kuala Lumpur: Oman needed penalties to lift the 2019 Airmarine Cup after defeating Singapore 5-4, while Malaysia took third spot following their 2-1 win over Afghanistan at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday. Singapore defeated Malaysia 1-0 in their semifinal courtesy of a solitary goal from Faris Ramli while Oman breezed past Afghanistan 5-0 to set-up the final. The win for Oman is a welcome boost for Erwin Koeman who took charge of the coaching duties less than a week before the start of the tournament.
Oman, ranked 90th in the world, imposed themselves from the start and controlled the pace of the game and Raed Ibrahim Saleh, who played a pivotal role in the win against Afghanistan, kept Singapore on their toes.
Singapore custodian Zaiful Nizam Abdullah was on top of his game and was quick to react during an Oman counter attack in the 12th minute as he made a superb block against Raed Saleh in the danger area.
However, Oman caught their opponents backline napping in the 22nd minute when Raed Saleh found Aziz al Maqbali in the box and he rose the highest to head the ball in for his 27th international goal.
Zaiful Nizam was called into action again seven minutes later when he rushed off his line to collect the ball from the feet of Ahmed al Mahaijri as Oman took a 1-0 lead into the half-time break.
Oman upped the tempo in the second half and almost doubled their advantage nine minutes after the restart but Zaiful Nizam parried Al Mahaijri’s shot and made another save from the resultant corner.
With almost half an hour left, Singapore head coach Nazri Nasir sent on Hariss Harun in place of Gabriel Quak in the hope of finding the equaliser.
Singapore orchestrated one last push in stoppage time and were rewarded with a free-kick in the danger area.
Zulfahmi Arifin converted a beautiful set-piece which found the top left corner of the net for a 1-1 score at full-time as the match went to penalties.
Both sides were tied at 3-3 before Faris smashed his effort against the bar to give Oman the upper hand as Raed Saleh converted the winning penalty to give Oman a 5-4 victory.
Meanwhile, Tan Cheng Hoe’s Young Tigers, who are ranked 167th in the world, held their heads high after defeating Afghanistan, who are ranked 20 rungs higher.
The hosts fell behind two minutes after the half hour mark after succumbing to the high-pressing game asserted by their opponents.
Faysal Shayesteh found the back of the net with a curling effort from outside the box as Afghanistan took a deserving 1-0 lead.
Malaysia refused to give in and clawed their way back into the game at the stroke of half-time when Faiz Nasir unleashed an unstoppable shot from 35 yards out to the top corner of the goal.
Malaysia were they better side at the start of the second half as Mohamadou Sumareh and Norshahrul Talaha almost put them in front when they tested the Afghanistan custodian.
Their persistence finally paid off when Abassin Laikhil put the ball into his own net in the 84th minute to give Malaysia a 2-1 lead and they held on for the win.