Qatar and Syria enjoyed opening day wins over Yemen and Sri Lanka respectively in Group A of the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022 Qualifiers on Monday (25th Oct).
Two first half goals coupled with Khaled Mohammed’s wonder strike in the 63rd minute saw Qatar emerge victorious against Yemen while Syria were equally impressive in their 5-0 win over Sri Lanka.
Qatar will face Sri Lanka next on Thursday, while Yemen must bounce back strongly against Syria if they are to stay in contention for a place in Uzbekistan 2022.
SYRIA 5-0 SRI LANKA
Syria, who have not missed a single edition of the AFC U23 Asian Cup, hit the ground running and unlocked Sri Lanka’s defense within the first 15 seconds of the match as Mohammad Malta slotted home Ali Bashmani’s pass from close range.
The provider turned goal scorer in the 25th minute to make it 2-0, with captain Mohammad Alhallak sending in a cross into the area which Malta headed onto the path of Bashmani to convert.
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A deflection saw the South Asians concede a third goal when Alhallak’s long-range strike bounced off Dananjaya’s back and into the back of the net in the 42nd minute.
Syria continued to dominate possession in the second half and scored their fourth in the 70th minute through another Sri Lankan mistake. Ahmad Alkhassi’s intended cross for substitute Abdulhadi Shalha saw a desperate Abdul Basith diverting the ball past his goalkeeper Nuwan Gimhana.
There was to be a fifth for Syria in the 85th minute as Aimn Akil beat the offside trap before passing it to Bashmani for the clean finish.
QATAR 3-0 YEMEN
Qatar took control of the match from the start and were ahead by the 14th minute when Ahmed Al Ganehi curled in a superb cross that a surging Hashim Ali finished emphatically.
Nicolas Cordova’s Qatar side continued to press for more goals and their persistence was rewarded in the 42nd minute when Ali’s strike from inside the box deflected off Hamzah Mohammed Sabah’s boot and into the back of the net.
Yemen were more disciplined defensively in the second half but goalkeeper Ali Fadhl Ahmed could do little to stop Khaled Mohammed’s crackling shot from almost 20 yards in the 63rd minute.
Yemen hardly threatened goalkeeper Salah Zakaria as the Qatari defenders were quick to thwart any threats as they held on strongly to bag the points.