Pattaya: United Arab Emirates sealed a place in the AFC Beach Soccer Championship Thailand 2019 final, and became the first Asian team to qualify for the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup, thanks to a thrilling 3-2 semifinal win over Oman on Friday Waleed Beshr’s goal two minutes from time eventually proved decisive in the evenly-balanced, back-and-forth encounter, in which Oman twice came from behind to equalise. While Oman’s hopes of becoming Continental champions have been dashed, they can still earn their place at Paraguay 2019 by winning Sunday’s play-off against Palestine for third place.
UAE, meanwhile, will face Japan for the title after the East Asians cruised past Palestine 6-0 in the other semifinal.
Oman came into the match full of confidence, and they had a good chance to take the lead in the fourth minute through a promisingly positioned Abdullah Salim free-kick, but Mohamed al Bahri stood firm to deny him.
Instead, it was the Emiratis who took the early lead, with Hasham al Muntaser stepping up to punish an error from Oman goalkeeper Amjad al Hamdani, who was penalised for venturing too far with the ball in hand.
Oman’s Khalid al Oraimi had the first chance of the second period but missed when he could, and possibly should have scored to punish a cheap giveaway in the Emirati defensive third.
But Oman eventually found their equaliser, with Nooh al Zadjali making something out of nothing to beat Al Bahri, and get Talib Hilal’s side back on an even keel in the 19th minute, but the lead lasted only a minute, with UAE’s Abbas Ali cutting inside a defender before finding the net with a powerful low effort.
With a place in Sunday’s final on the line, Oman pushed back hard, and it took UAE captain Walid Mohammad to clear a goal-bound Abdullah Salim effort off the line, before Al Bahri made two pivotal late saves to keep their lead intact with one period remaining.
Oman found a second equaliser, this time slightly fortuitously, when the prone Sami al Bulushi deflected in Jalal al Sinani’s firmly hit but off-target shot into the back of the net in the 28th minute.
Abdullah Salim sent a delicate header just over the crossbar with three minutes remaining, but it was Beshr who decided the tie, when — with just over two minutes remaining — he found the back of the net with a superb volley on the turn to give his side a lead they wouldn’t give up.
UAE head coach
“I’d like to thank God for everything, I’d also like to thank my players for everything. This was a big match between UAE and Oman. It was a tough and hard match between two strong teams. (World Cup qualification) is not my goal. I have one more step. My focus now is just on the final. I’d also like to thank AFC for their organisation of this tournament.”
Oman head coach
“First of all, I have to congratulate the Emirates team for qualifying for the World Cup. We are not out of the qualification for the World Cup. We have one more chance. We played well today.”