Oman move into quarters

KUALA LUMPUR: DPR Korea cruised into the AFC U-16 Championship 2018 quarterfinals as Group B winners after a 3-1 triumph over Oman at the MBPJ Stadium on Thursday.
There was joy for Oman too despite the defeat as they advanced to the last eight as the runners-up after Yemen stunned Jordan 5-1 in the group’s other match.
Both sides went into the match tied on four points with Oman leading the standings on goal difference, having opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Yemen, and twice coming from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw with Jordan.
“This game was against one of the toughest teams. It wasn’t easy for our boys. For me, we need to concentrate and come back stronger. We need to correct the mistakes that happened in this game. Recovery will be crucial for the next two days. (The Fifa U-17 World Cup) is the dream, second or first in the group doesn’t matter, the next game will be the most important. We know what we need to do against Japan, but I hope we can execute it,” Yaqoub Saud Saif al Sabahi, Oman head coach, said.
It had been the reverse for DPR Korea, who kicked off their tournament with a hard fought 2-2 draw with Jordan, before claiming a 1-0 victory over Yemen.
Knowing that the victors would be the group winners, both teams began spiritedly but it was the Koreans who claimed the early advantage, when they were awarded a free-kick from which Kim Jin-Hyok sent a brilliant cross into the box which captain Pak Ryong-Gwon nodded home in the fourth minute.
Oman immediately pushed for the equaliser and dictated the pace of the game, forcing DPR Korea to play on the counter-attack.
In one such instance in the 16th minute, a long-range pass from across the pitch found Jin-Hyok and Pak Kyong-Song on the right flank, and their inter-passing flustered the Omani defence, which created space for Kyong-Song to cross the ball to An Phyong-Il in the box, who then set Kim Kang-Song up for the finishing strike to double their lead.
Oman suffered a scare in the 36th minute when Mohammed Rashid al Balushi’s attempt to clear his area saw the ball deflect off Kang-Song towards his goalkeeper Mitham Ali al Ajmi, whose weak clearance also bounced off the surging striker but Kang-Song’s shot struck the upright.
A minute into first half added time, DPR Korea were three goals up with Jin-Hyok securing his second assist of the game when Phyong-Il rose highest to head home a corner-kick.
Pak Jong-Chol’s charges opted for a more defensive approach in the second half as they relied on long range passes to find Kang-Song, who came close in the 65th minute but was again denied by the post.
Oman managed to pull one back in the 78th minute with Qusai Salim al Jaradi converting a spot-kick after DPR Korea’s Chae Yu-Song was penalised for hand ball inside the box.
DPR Korea will play Group B runners-up Tajikistan in the quarterfinals while Oman will face two-time champions Japan on Sunday.
“Before the match, I thought Oman were one of the top teams in this tournament, and I did not expect us to score as early as we did. Once we scored, our players got really excited and it raised our confidence. I’m generally satisfied with my players’ performance. I believe as they spend more time on the pitch, they will become more and more confident,” Pak Jong-Chol, DPR Korea head coach, said. — AFC