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23 Mar 2015
Surprises and close-calls fill Day 1 in Doha
Favourites, Iran, the UAE, and Japan all narrowly escape the opening day with wins as Lebanon, Iraq, and Kuwait pushed them to the brink
The UAE avoids collapse to earn 3 points
The 7-5 victory for the UAE of Iraq was a perfect start to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2015 – AFC Qualifier Qatar, as on paper it looked like one team would dominate, and it seemed that way at first, before Iraq made a strong push and got back to within striking distance. The Emirati calmed their nerves with a third period goal that marked the end of the comeback trail for Iraq. The win gives the UAE the first three points of the event and the lead in Group C, as they hope find their way back to another World Cup. Iraq played a fierce match and will have a chance to prove their worth in their next match on Wednesday against Uzbekistan, whereas the UAE will build on their momentum against Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
The Emirati looked like the heavy favourites as they opened the scoring with a great strike from Hasan Ali. The goals then started flowing and Iraq leveled things at 1, only to cede two more quick goals, putting the score at 3-1 for the Emirati going into the heart of the opening frame. The spectacular efforts did not slow down and Hasan Ali scored his hat-trick goal in the final minute of the period to take a 4-1 lead into the first break. The Falcons opened the second period just where they left off the first, by scoring, putting the score at 5-1 with less than a minute gone in the frame. The Iraqi began to attack more and more and got their second and third goals of the day to pull back to within three, at 6-3, but the UAE was able to shut down the Iraqi side for the remainder of the period and the score stayed at 6-3 going into the third period.
A comeback for Iraq was never out of the question but the UAE looked comfortable in the opening minutes of the final frame. That comfort did not last long as the Iraqis pushed and pushed and got their fourth goal on a flick header from Hussein J. to get back to within two goals at 6-4. A late penalty gave even more fire to the comeback flame for Iraq, but even with the score at 7-5, there were not enough goals to go around. When the final buzzer sounded, the UAE had survived the attacks and escaped with a 7-5 win.
Goals: 1-0: Hasan Ali, min. 9 (1); 1-1: Ali, min. 8 (1); 2-1: Hasan Ali, min. 8 (1); 3-1: Adel, min. 7 (1); 4-1: Hasan Ali, min. 0 (1); 5-1: Ali Karim, min. 11 (2); 6-1: Ali Karim, min. 7 (2); 6-2: Abdullah, min. 5 (2); 6-3: Abdullah, min. 3 (2); 6-4: Hussein J., min. 9 (3); 7-4: Ali Karim, min. 7 (3); 7-5: Hussein J., min. 4 (3).
Oman ekes out tough win over Bahrain
The 3-2 win for Oman over Bahrain was tightly contested and were it not for the final whistle signaling Oman the victor, the match could still be on, with the sides trading blows. The Red Warriors took the lead and were comfortably ahead, however Bahrain clawed their way back and leveled things late in the match. The deciding goal did not come until the final minute. The win is a great momentum builder for Oman and they will need it in their next match against Laos on Tuesday, if they hope to secure the top spot in the group. Bahrain showed heart and determination in coming from behind but they will need to finish stronger in their next match in Group A against Qatar on Tuesday.
Both Oman and Bahrain have a very good beach soccer pedigree and their experience was on full display in the opening frame. Neither side was able to secure the early goal but the two squads were being very aggressive in the first minutes. Going into the final minutes of the first period, neither side found their offensive rhythm but after many near misses, Oman connected on a solid header to put the Red Warriors up 1-0 going into the second period. As the number of shots grew so did the saves and blocks and as the middle of the frame rolled around, neither squad had struck the back of the onion bag. The Omani were more forceful with their attacks and eventually they did double their lead due to a goal from Jalal. Bahrain managed to get one back on a daft toe-poke shot from Ayoob, that put the score at 2-1 going into the third period.
Bahrain only needed one goal and opportunity to tie things but Oman was able to initially repel the attacks in the final frame. The Bahraini were not relinquishing anything on defense and were being the aggressors but it did not make a big difference as the score remained the same with just over seven minutes left in the match. Bahrain did not let that deter them and they found the all-important equalizer on a great strike from a direct kick, making the final minutes even more intense. The final goal came on a turnover with thirty seconds left and Oman made sure not to miss, leaving the score at 3-2, which is how the match would end.
Goals: 1-0: Hani, min. 1 (1); 2-0: Jalal, min. 7 (2); 2-1: Ayoob, min. 3 (2); 2-2: Abdulla, min. 5 (3); 3-2: Yahya, min. 0 (3).
China refuses to quit in penalties clash
The 5(3)-5(2) win for China over Vietnam was a spectacular display of the growth of beach soccer in the region as the Vietnamese are fairly new to the sport, but that did not show. On paper, China is the much stronger and more developed side, but watching live, you could tell that Vietnam was just as organized and more than belonged on the same pitch. China struck first, in the opening seconds but could not hold onto the lead and had to mount their own comeback, which they dramatically did, knotting things in the final frame and sending the game to overtime. The extra frame went scoreless and the Chinese came out on top in penalties.
Fast starts are not uncommon in beach soccer, especially with this high quality of play, and this match began as fast as possible with a Chinese goal on the kick-off. The Vietnamese regrouped and quickly responded with their first goal coming on a direct kick. The Fiery Reds did not take kindly to being considered an underdog and surprised the Dragons with another goal, this time on a penalty kick, to take the 2-1 lead. China used a beautiful and brave diving header to make the score level again at the half-way point of the opening frame. A first period hat-trick from B.T.T. Anh of Vietnam was a perfect cap to the opening frame, leaving the Golden Stars up 3-2. The goalies and defense really took their jobs to heart in the middle frame, as both sides pitched a shut-out in the period going into the final minutes. The offense eventually prevailed, with the fourth goal of the day for Vietnam, and fourth for Anh breaking the deadlock. The Chinese added another goal with a great individual display from Liu Y S, splitting four defenders, leaving the score at 4-3 for Vietnam going into the final period.
Daunted or not, China showed their mettle and scored first in the final period to level the score for the first time since the fourth minute in the first frame. The Vietnamese did not play this well to lose the lead and falter, and they responded with another goal from their star B.T.T. Anh, his fifth goal on the day was on a penalty kick and out Vietnam up 5-4, still early in the frame. China had an answer and leveled things at 5-5 and both sides played conservatively to close out the match and that decision led to overtime. Vietnam were on their heels in the early going over overtime but they found their chances and countered, only to see their shots batted away by the Chinese keeper. After a thrilling penalty shootout, China came away with the 5(3)-5(2) win.
Goals: 1-0: Liu Y S, min. 11 (1); 1-1: B.T.T. Anh, min. 9 (1); 1-2: B.T.T. Anh, min. 7 (1); 2-2: Chen X W, min. 6 (1); 2-3: B.T.T. Anh, min. 1 (1); 2-4: B.T.T. Anh, min. 1 (2); 3-4: Liu Y S, min. 0 (2); 4-4: Wan Ch, min. 11 (3); 4-5: B.T.T. Anh, min. 10 (3); 5-5: Wan Ch, min. 5 (3).
Penalties: Goal: Wan Ch, Goal: P.N.V. Quy, Goal: Chen X W, Goal: B.T.T. Anh, Goal: Liu Y S, Miss: Dat
Japan entertains fans with back and forth action
The 5-3 win for Japan over Kuwait began as expected, with the Nippon scoring first, but surprise came with how quickly and confidently Kuwait replied. The underdogs took a lead going into the first break and did well to limit Japan’s chances. When push came to shove, Japan responded and built on their lead and shut down Kuwait from a defensive standpoint. The win gives Japan the outright lead in Group B, as China needed penalties to win, and will hope for another victory against Vietnam on Tuesday. Kuwait played a great match and their strong showing will be help them in their upcoming battle with China on Tuesday.
Japan began the match on the attack and were continually knocking on the door but Kuwait was steady and did not initially succumb to the pressure, however Goto made sure to collect his own rebound on a rocket of a shot to score the first goal of the match, near the middle of the frame. The Nippon were in control for much of the frame and did not have to thwart many attacks but as always happens in beach soccer, one touch can change the game and the Kuwaitis got the equalizing goal near the end of period. Japan could not pull away as both teams traded another two goals, before Kuwait scored in the last minute of the period to take their first lead of the match at 3-2, into the first break. The opening period deficit served as a wake-up call for the Blue Samurai and they quickly scored the equalizer and then quickly restored their lead. The Japanese used Ozu’s amazing acrobatics to balloon their lead to two goals, at 5-3, after a perfectly timed and placed bicycle kick from the Japanese star, which coincidently was his third on the day. The period would end with Japan maintaining the 5-3 lead.
Kuwait opened the final period with a great opportunity to put the fear back into Japan, but a missed penalty, saved by the post, kept the score the same with under a minute gone in the last frame. The offenses, of both squads, found their rhythm early, but the defenses took over in the final frame, hitting their stride when it is most important, late in games. With under six minutes left in the match, Kuwait was pressing matters and was in position to score but the Blue Samurai kept their heads and were happy to let the time tick away. The Japanese used excellent ball control and possession to knock Kuwait out of sync and when the referee signaled the end of the match, the score was 5-3 for Japan.
Goals: 1-0: Goto, min. 7 (1); 1-1: A. Alsaif, min. 4 (1); 2-1: Ozu, min. 1 (1); 2-2: Al. Alhamad, min. 1 (1); 2-3: A. Alsaif, min. 0 (1); 3-3: Goto, min. 11 (2); 4-3: Ozu, min. 10 (2); 5-3: Ozu, min. 3 (2).
Laos battles through Qatar for needed win
The 6-5 win for Laos over Qatar was a tale of two halves. The first half of the match, the opening frame and some of the second period saw the hosts lose composure and go down by a score of 3-1, but a spark helped rally them to take the lead late in the middle period, but that would prove to be inadequate, as the guests rebounded again and held on for the three points. The win puts Laos in a good place in their group, Group A, and another win will be needed against Oman on Tuesday, if they hope to take further advantage of this victory. Qatar was fiercely competitive and very well could have won this match had the ball bounced a little more in their favour. The Qatari will next face Bahrain on Tuesday, looking for their first points.
Laos had never participated in a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup – AFC Qualifier, but based on their approach and look in the opening minutes, you could not tell. The Laotians scored first and were primed and ready to score more. The next goal did not come from the visitors; it came from the hosts on a perfect distribution pass from the Qatar goalie then a heading pass to Al Sharqi who slotted home the ball with his head, putting the score at 1-1 midway through the frame. The guests made sure they took the home crowd out of the action and Laos scored the next goal, restoring their one goal lead and taking a 2-1 lead into the middle frame. Early in the second period, the teams were playing to a stalemate as both defenses and keepers were at the top of their games. The Laotians were the first to break the deadlock, scoring their third on the day and pushing their lead to two goals, at 3-1, going into the heart of the match. The scrappiness of the match continued and the Qatari scored again to get back to within one goal at 3-2. The comeback continued and Qatar turned into a different team, scoring left and right and the Maroon turned their 3-1 deficit early in the frame into a 5-3 advantage going into the final period.
The match was far from over and Laos found their composure and early form once again and scored two pretty goals to tie the score at 5, midway through the frame. Qatar was on cruise control and then were awoken by the never-say-never attitude of Laos. The hosts turned up the intensity but were unable to get their sixth goal as the game went into the final minutes. For all the work Laos had done to get back into the game, they could not find the back of the net again until N. Chiu scored his third of the day, on a play where Qatar could not clear the ball in front of their net, to put Laos back up by one goal at 6-5. Neither team wanted to make a mistake, specifically make the mistake that would gift their opponent the game. Neither side made that error and that was alright by Laos as they held on to win 6-5.
Goals: 0-1: N. Chiu, min. 9 (1); 1-1: Al Sharqi, min. 7 (1); 1-2: B. Souksakhone, min. 5 (1); 1-3: N. Chiu, min. 8 (2); 2-3: Jafal, min. 7 (2); 3-3: M. Hashim, min. 5 (2); 4-3: Al Sharqi, min. 4 (2); 5-3: S. Nanthaly (o.g.), min. 3 (2); 5-4: B. Tona, min. 7 (3); 5-5: B. Souksakhone, min. 7 (3); 5-6: N. Chiu, min. 5 (3).
Iran guts out nail-biting win
The 3-2 win for Iran over Lebanon was not easy but there were moments of brilliance from both sides. The low-scoring affair was an aberration by beach soccer standards, but the quality of play was still superb. Lebanon took the lead first but could not keep the same energy and eventually they allowed the equalizer, and they held on until the final period, where they allowed the Iranians to take their first lead of the day. The lead would only get as high as two goals before they were forced to hold on for the tough win. Iran will have a rest day on Tuesday and next play Thailand on Wednesday. Lebanon will face Lebanon on Tuesday in hopes of getting a much needed three points.
The first goal is oftentimes the most difficult to get, but once it comes, it opens up the entire pitch and the goals become commonplace. The opening minutes of the days’ final match showed how important it was for each team to not cede the first goal. The defenses were up to the task. A wonderful diving header, halfway through the opening 12 minutes gave the Lebanese side the first goal of the match and helped set the tone for the remainder of the period, which ended with Lebanon up 1-0. The Princes of Persia did not go long into the middle frame before scoring the equalizer, making the tension even more palpable. The chances continued to mount, but they went unanswered and going into the final minutes of the period the score remained the same, tied at 1.
Iran took their first lead on the day in the final period and the Cedars of Lebanon had to dig deep to find an answer. The answer was not as easy as the Lebanese squad would have hoped, and the score remained the same going into the final minutes, Iran up by a tally of 2-1. The two teams exchanged late goals, as the crowd grew more and more antsy to see next amazing shot, Iran made just enough plays to come out on top. When the final whistle sounded, the Princes of Persia held on for a 3-2 win.
Goals: 0-1: A. Grada, min. 5 (1); 1-1: M. Sadeghi, min. 11 (2); 2-1: F. Boulokboshi, min. 10 (3); 3-1: Ahmadzadeh, min. 1 (3); 3-2: M. Hadoui, min. 1 (3).
FIFA BEACH SOCCER WORLD CUP 2015 – AFC QUALIFIER QATAR
12:30 – UAE 7-5 Iraq (Group C)
15:00 – Oman 3-2 Bahrain (Group A)
16:15 – China 5(3)-5(2) (pso) Vietnam (Group B)
17:30 – Japan 5-3 Kuwait (Group B)
18:45 – Qatar 5-6 Laos (Group A)
20:00 – Iran 3-2 Lebanon (Group D)
12:30 – Uzbekistan vs. UAE (Group C)
15:00 – Laos vs. Oman (Group A)
16:15 – Kuwait vs. China (Group B)
17:30 – Vietnam vs. Japan (Group B)
18:45 – Bahrain vs. Qatar (Group A)
20:00 – Thailand vs. Lebanon (Group D)