A TRIO of blunders proved costly for Bahrain in a 2-3 defeat to Azerbaijan last night in an international friendly match played at National Stadium in Riffa.
All three mistakes led to the visitors’ goals, including their winning strike following a spirited Bahraini comeback after losing a first-half lead.
The tune-up was part of the national team’s preparations for their joint-qualifier at home against Iran on Tuesday for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
The upcoming clash is their third in Group ‘C’ and it will be a major test against the divisional favourites.
Bahrain opened the scoring in yesterday’s contest following a brilliant 32nd-minute effort from Abdulwahab Al Malood.
The inspirational midfielder found his way into the box and was first to a cross from teammate Ali Jaafar Mohamed. Al Malood sent the low pass into the net off the inside of the right post to put the Bahrainis in front.
Just eight minutes later, however, Bahrain’s celebrations were cut short after defender Mohamed Yusuf Abdulla made a poor clearance that went directly into the path of Azerbaijan’s Rufat Dadashov at the edge of the box.
Dadashov took advantage and hit a powerful shot into the top-right corner of goal, far from the reach of Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Mohammed Jaffar.
Azerbaijan then took the lead in the 61st minute after another gaffe from Bahrain. Substitute Sayed Dhiya Saeed misread a pass and gave possession back to their opponents.
Tamkin Khalilzada obliged and brilliantly dribbled past Bahrain’s Ahmed Mubarak before unleashing a left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner of goal.
The Bahrainis battled back and were rewarded with an outstanding leveller just six minutes later. Some one-touch passing from Mohammed Al Rumaihi, Komail Alaswad and Mahdi Faisal Al Humaidan led to a Jassim Al Shaikh strike.
Al Humaidan supplied a brilliant back-heel pass to Al Shaikh right in the face of goal, and the latter made no mistake with his shot.
Unfortunately for Bahrain, that paved the way for the decisive defensive blunder which came only two minutes after equalising
Azerbaijan hit a quick counterattack and a long lob pass sent Ramil Sheydayev sprinting for the ball with Bahrain’s Abdulla on his left shoulder.
As they neared the penalty area, Bahraini goalkeeper Jaffar left his post with the intention to clear the ball, but as he neared, Abdulla attempted a poor tackle and nudged the ball away from Jaffar’s reach.
It instead rolled forward and all Sheydayev needed to do was kick the ball into an empty goal.