BAHRAIN held hosts Hong Kong to a goalless draw in a Round 2 Group ‘C’ match of the 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2023 AFC Cup joint qualifier yesterday.
Bahrain took almost 30 minutes to find a way through Hong Kong’s back line with Kamil Al Aswad’s ball from deep in midfield releasing Mohamed Abdulwahab down the left. Mahdi Al Humaidan looked well placed to score, but was unable to make contact with the ball.
Abdulwahab was causing Hong Kong further problems as the first-half wore on and, although his long range attempt was well off target five minutes before the break, his free-kick two minutes into injury time carried a greater threat, with Yapp Hung-fai gathering at the second attempt.
Yapp had to be at his most alert as time ticked down towards the interval, with the veteran custodian also on hand to deny Ismail Abdullatif when he attempted to steer his first-time effort into the bottom corner.
While Hong Kong had defended well, the home side offered little at the other end of the pitch, with only a weak effort from Chun Lok-tan trundling through to Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Jaafar in the first 45 minutes.
But it was Hong Kong who almost opened the scoring three minutes after the hour mark when a rare free-kick deep in Bahrain territory from Chan Siu-kwan was nodded agonisingly wide by Beto.
Yapp kept out Al Aswad’s attempt from distance soon after and, with time running out, Abdullatif hit the side netting after racing towards goal as the home side continued to frustrate Bahrain before eventually securing a point.
It was Bahrain’s second draw in the group after having held Iraq 1-1 in the first match.
In the other Group ‘C’ match yesterday, Iraq defeated Iran 2-1. Iraq top the group with 10 points while Bahrain are second with eight.
The winners of the eight groups qualify for the next group phase along with the four best runners-up.
Bahrain now face Iraq on Tuesday in Jordan. Hong Kong take on Cambodia on the same day.