Jordan tame Syria to reach Asian Cup knockouts

Jordan’s Tareq Khattab celebrates scoring their second goal against Syria with Yousef Al-Rawashdeh and Khalil Bani Ateyah. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Jordan tame Syria to reach Asian Cup knockouts

  • First-half goals from Mousa Mohammad Suleiman and Tareq Khattab gave Jordan a maximum six points in Group B
  • Vital Borkelmans’ team, who stunned defending champions Australia in their first game, advanced to the last 16

AL-AIN, United Arab Emirates: Jordan won a bruising derby with Syria 2-0 to become the first team to reach the Asian Cup knockout stages on Thursday, while talisman Chanathip “Messi Jay” Songkrasin hauled crisis-hit Thailand back on track.
In a rowdy atmosphere at a packed Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, first-half goals from Mousa Mohammad Suleiman and Tareq Khattab gave Jordan a maximum six points in Group B with one game to go against Palestine.
Vital Borkelmans’ team, who stunned defending champions Australia in their first game, could soon be joined in the last 16 by surprise package India, who face hosts UAE later in Group A.
“We know where we are coming from — from very low. And we changed a lot of things,” said Borkelmans, a former Belgium assistant coach who joined Jordan last year.
“Before, nobody believed in these players but now at this moment I think all the media and the Jordan people believe that they have a good team,” he added.
At a raucous Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, Jordan slowly asserted dominance and could have scored when Suleiman’s mazy run prised open Syria’s defense, but Yousef Rawshdeh’s shot sailed over.
But on 26 minutes, after a break down the left, the two combined again when Suleiman stabbed home Rawshdeh’s shot from close range, triggering deafening celebrations.
Tareq Khattab doubled Jordan’s lead two minutes from half-time, when he bundled past Syrian captain Omar Al-Soma to nod in a corner in at the near post.
Syria’s Omar Khrbin came close twice after the break, once when his free header cleared the bar and again when he unleashed a shot which went just wide.
Tempers flared when Jehad Al-Baour pulled back Suleiman during a break and a shoving match developed on the touchline, egged on by the crowd.
Saeed Al-Murjan’s lunge to get on the end of a free kick was somehow kept out by Syrian ‘keeper Ibrahim Alma but the job was already done for Jordan, who celebrated joyously with their fans at the final whistle.
Earlier, bleach-blond Chanathip fired Thailand to only the second Asian Cup win in their history as they beat Bahrain 1-0 to reignite their campaign in Group A.
The Consadole Sapporo midfielder’s second-half strike was enough for the Thais, who sacked their coach Milovan Rajevac after opening with a shock 4-1 loss to India.
Thailand had no shots on target as Bahrain controlled the first half, with Mohamed Jasim Marhoon and Sayed Dhiya Saeed coming closest as they forced goalkeeper Chatchai Bootprom into a sharp double save.
But Chanathip, whose fans compare him to Lionel Messi, seized victory for the War Elephants near the hour-mark with a superbly struck first-time shot that rocketed past Sayed Shubbar Alawi in the Bahrain goal.


Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

Updated 17 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

  • A double from Almoez Ali means Qatar top Group E.
  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's men now face Japan in second round on Monday.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia now know they will have to overcome Japan in the second round if they are to keep their hopes of a fourth Asian Cup title alive. 

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar meant Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men finished second in Group E — both sides went into the top-of-the-table clash knowing they had already secured a spot in the knockout stages. 

A brace from Almoez Ali in Abu Dhabi was enough to give Qatar the three points and leave them top of the group. 

From the kick-off the Green Falcons were the ones who looked the more likely to make the initial breakthrough —  Fahad Almuwallad slamming a right-foot shot against the post after 22 minutes.

Qatar captain Hasan Al-Haydos then missed a penalty in the 42nd minute after Ali had been clattered in the box.

But Ali, who scored four goals in Qatar's 6-0 rout of North Korea last weekend, made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

He calmly slotted the ball past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais to become the first player to score six goals in a single Asian Cup since South Korea's Lee Dong-gook in 2000.

Ali subsequently headed in a seventh goal of the tournament 10 minutes from time, celebrating with a jig of delight.

While the defeat was not ideal Green Falcons coach Pizzi said he was still hopeful Saudi Arabia would be able to go far in the tournament. 

"It was an intense game but we have to hide our feelings and prepare for the last 16," Pizzi said.

"We were missing quality in the final third and individual errors have cost us," he added.

"But we will bounce back. I respect every team left in the competition, including Japan, but I don't feel that we are inferior to them in any way."

Qatar, who have never gone beyond the quarterfinals, advance to face Iraq in the last 16.