Oman triumph to reach Olympics play-off
By staff - Thu Mar 29, 5:04 pm
Oman shocked Uzbekistan 2-0 today to reach next month’s one-off play-off game against Senegal for a place at the London Olympics. Two first-half strikes were enough to gain the necessary win for Oman, who also weathered a late red card to influential midfielder Eid Mohammed Eid Al Farsi.
Oman’s very presence in the three-team Asian play-offs had been called “a miracle” by manager Paul Le Guen, as it owed much to the 3-0 win they were awarded after Qatar fielded an ineligible player in their November group game.
Ahead of today’s clash Oman knew nothing less than victory would do after Syria’s last-gasp equaliser held them to a 1-1 draw on Sunday. Uzbekistan needed only a draw after they beat Syria 2-1 to top the round-robin mini-table.
But it was Oman who took the lead in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi against their more favoured opponents when Hussain Al Hadri converted a penalty on 16 minutes. And they delivered the hammer blow when Raed Ibrahim Saleh chested down a cross from the right and lashed home the second from close range on the stroke of half-time.
The straight red for Al Farsi, who clattered Uzbek number nine Kenja Turaev, reduced Oman to ten men for the last 16 minutes and cued up a tense finish at the My Dinh National Stadium. But Uzbekistan paid for a lack of quality in front of goal and captain Fozil Musaev’s wild slice over the bar, on 85 minutes, was as close as they came to reducing the deficit.
Oman now go into an 23 April intercontinental play-off with Senegal in Coventry, England, with the winner gaining entry to this year’s Olympics.