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Asian Cup: UAE lose out to debutants Tajikistan on penalties

Tajikistan take the lead in the 30th minute against UAE at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium (AFP)
29 Jan 2024 11:43

Doha (Agencies)

The UAE bowed out of the Asian Cup with a 5-3 defeat on penalties against the lower-ranked Tajikistan in Qatar on Sunday. UAE had to rely on an injury-time equaliser from Khalid Al Hammadi, but after could not go all the way after the extra time failed to move the 1-1 margin.

Two headers from both sides cancelled out the scoreline at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium but, for most of the match, the UAE were struggling to make headway. The problems began at the outset when Abdullah Ramadan had to leave the ground injured. Ironically, Ramadan was coming from a fitness cloud over him, but Paulo Bento needed the services of the creative brain and midfielder from Al Jazira.

And when Vahdat Hanonov scored in the 30th minute, the tide was always against the Whites. UAE equalised right at the end, with defender Al Hammadi rising high to nod home Ali Saleh’s free-kick in the fifth minute of added time, taking the game to an additional 30 minutes. 

Neither side looked eager to take risks with Yatimov producing the only save of the shootout to ensure Tajikistan's dream campaign continued.

Goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov was Tajikistan’s hero, judging correctly to deny Caio Canedo’s penalty when the shootout was tied 1-1 as the Central Asian side extended their debut campaign to the quarter-finals, with either Iraq or Jordan their next opponents. 

The defeat will sting for the new manager Bento’s first major assignment where, in an unexplained move as yet, the Portuguese never utilised the services of Ali Mabkhout, the country’s leading goalscorer and Ramadan’s senior club mate. With this defeat, Bento has overseen one victory in past five games after starting last year with six victories in a row.

Australia brush aside Indonesia 4-0

Earlier, Australia beat Indonesia 4-0 in the first game of the knockout stage to advance to the quarter-finals from the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium. Indonesia had not beaten Australia in 43 years and, despite the south-east Asian side’s loud supporters vastly outnumbering the Australian fans in the tiny arena, it was Graham Arnold’s side who prevailed after capitalising on their chances.

“Credit to Indonesia, I think they made it tough. Physically, they were very big and strong. It was a tough game. The quality that we’ve got up front came through today,” Arnold said. “The improvement I saw today was the individual belief... In a lot of ways [they played with] more freedom and were relaxed, that’s what I want. It’s good to have a great system of play and it’s good to have great attacking patterns.”

Indonesia started the game on the front foot and gave their opponents an early scare with an effort on goal but Australia took the lead in the 12th minute when Jackson Irvine’s cross was deflected into the net by defender Elkan Baggott.
Australia weathered the storm as Indonesia attempted to find a way through their staunch defence, before Boyle gave them a two-goal cushion on the stroke of half time when he connected with Gethin Jones’s cross to head in at the far post.

The Indonesian fans in red and white tried their best to spur on their team. Australia had a big reprieve, when Jones deliberately tripped Rafael Struick off the ball in retaliation. The foul occurred right in front of Arnold, who angrily threw a water bottle to the turf expecting a red card. But the referee only cautioned Jones, who was immediately taken off by Arnold.

Craig Goodwin came on as a late substitute and the forward made an instant impact when he pounced on a rebound to score in the 89th minute while towering defender Harry Souttar made it 4-0 moments later with a glancing header from a set piece.

Australia will play either Saudi Arabia or South Korea in the quarter-finals. Indonesia were the lowest-ranked team in the knockout stage, sitting 121 rungs below Australia, and coach Shin Tae-yong said he was proud of his young side regardless of the four goals they conceded.

“I don’t think we lost in terms of the performance level and one of the reasons was the players did well. I gave them instructions how to play and they followed those very well, that was from our preparation,” the South Korean coach said. “We lost because there’s a level of difference, experience and concentration. Someday we’re going to play at a similar level against Australia.”

Source: Aletihad - Abu Dhabi
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