BAHRAIN booked their berth in the quarter-final of the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Beach Soccer Championship yesterday following a resounding 5-2 victory over Kuwait in their second Group ‘C’ match in Pattaya, Thailand.
Rashed Jamal scored a brace to help inspire the Bahrainis, who had to play a majority of the match with just four men. In just the third minute of play, their Mohamed Ashoor was shown a red card after catching Kuwaiti Mahdi Al Qallaf with a high challenge.
Abbas Zubayel and Salman Alyaqoobi were the other scorers for the nationals, while Kuwait’s Abdullatif Al Hamad had an own goal. Bahraini goalkeeper Sayed Mohammed also made several key saves to help his team in the contest.
The result gave Bahrain a full six points from two matches and it ensured their place in the last eight, where their opponent has yet to be determined.
“The game was very difficult, and we knew it would be difficult, because for this Kuwait team, it was their last chance,” said Bahrain head coach Mahmood Al Ghawi. “The red card made it difficult, and Kuwait played a very, very strong game, but thankfully we won. My plan is to take it step by step. Qatar, Kuwait, then Japan, and we want to win every game.”
Bahrain managed to take the lead despite being one man down. In the fifth minute, Zubayel found space at the back post to finish a great move from across the pitch.
In the second period, it was more of a war of attrition than a shootout, with neither side able to regularly test the opposing goalkeeper. Kuwait’s Mohammed Hajeyah then got his side back into the contest when a 19th-minute free-kick that swerved past Bahrain’s Mohamed to tie things at 1-1.
The joy turned to anguish for Hajeyah when he handled the ball moments later, allowing Jamal to thump home a free-kick. That was enough for a 2-1 lead heading into the third and final period.
Bahrain took a giant step toward the win when Jamal headed home his second from an inch-perfect Mohamed Darwish cross, and an unfortunate own-goal from Al Hamad in the same minute gave the Bahrainis even greater breathing space at 4-1.
A spectacular bicycle kick form Abdulrahman Al Yaqoub cut Kuwait’s deficit to two goals with five minutes remaining, but Alyaqoobi scored with 20 seconds remaining to stretch the lead, and seal three very important points.
Bahrain’s last game of the group stage is against Japan tomorrow. That game will determine their final placing in group ‘C’, as well as their quarter-final opponent. The Japanese thrashed the Qataris 7-1 in yesterday’s other game.