BAHRAIN sent nine goals past Sri Lanka while conceding none last night to score their second straight victory in Group ‘B’ of qualifying for next year’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship.
Six players made it onto the scoresheet for the Bahrainis. Four had a brace apiece, including Mohamed Marhoon, Mohamed Alshamsi, Hashim Sayed Hashim, and Ahmed Bughammar. Abdulaziz Rajab and Ahmed Al Sherooqi supplied the other two goals in the contest, which was played at the Khalifa Sports City stadium in Isa Town.
The result put the Bahrainis in prime position to claim the automatic berth from their qualifying group in the 2020 continental showcase. They now have to win their last qualifier against Palestine, scheduled for tomorrow.
The Palestinians share the same points and goal difference with the group hosts, having also beaten Sri Lanka 9-0 in their opening game and then defeating Bangladesh 1-0 yesterday.
Only the 11 group winners and four best second-placed teams qualify for the tournament, with hosts Thailand receiving an automatic berth.
In the event of a draw, the pre-determined tournament tie-breakers will come into effect. A loss for Bahrain would still leave them a slim chance of qualifying as a potential best second-placer.
Bahrain’s flurry of goals started in the 14th minute with Marhoon giving them the lead. Alshamsi doubled Bahrain’s lead nine minutes later and by the 31st minute, they were 4-0 up with Hashim (29th) and Rajab (31st) both scoring from the penalty spot.
There was to be more joy before the break as Marhoon scored his second of the night in added time.
Bahrain continued to pile on the pressure in the second half and just three minutes in, it was 6-0 Al Sherooqi finding the back of the net.
Bughammar converted Bahrain’s third spot-kick of the match in the 74th minute and added his second from open play in the 80th, before Hashim capped off the sterling performance with the match’s final goal in the 85th minute.
After the match, Bahrain head coach Samer Ben Chammam thanked his players for the effort they put in in the match and congratulated them on the remarkable result.
He added that their focus now turns to their Palestine game, which he said will be a tougher contest, and stressed the importance of claiming a victory in order to qualify for the AFC U23 Championship.
The competition is scheduled to take place in January of next year. The championship will then determine the continental representatives for the Tokyo Olympic Games later in 2020.