Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Late goal sinks Malaysia

UAE 1 Malaysia 0
Iran 3 Singapore 1
Bahrain 4 HKG 0
Kuwait 2 Australia 2
China 0 Syria 0
Indonesia 1 Oman 2
Thailand 0 Jordan 0
Vietnam 1 Lebanon 1

Second-half substitute Ahmed Khalil struck in the third minute of stoppage-time as UAE sealed their place at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup finals with a 1-0 win over Malaysia at Al Shabab Stadium in Dubai, Wednesday.

The home side dominated the entire contest but failed to convert any of their chances until former AFC Young Player of the Year Khalil curled home from the edge of the area.

Malaysia had to win their final game to keep their slender hopes of joining Uzbekistan in qualifying from the three team Group C alive, but the UAE's second win leaves Malaysia without a point from their four games.

Even though they knew a point would be enough to qualify for the finals ahead of their final game against Uzbekistan on March 3, the UAE began strongly and the home side came close to an opener after just seven minutes as Ismaeil Matar (pictured) was denied by Malaysia goalkeeper Mohd Farizal.

But the UAE failed to maintain their strong start and Malaysia fought back into the contest although the visitors failed to threaten UAE goalkeeper Majed Naser.

The home side regained control of the match as the first half progressed and again came close to opening the scoring after 22 minutes but Farizal turned away Matar's free-kick.

The UAE's dominance continued after the break but they still lacked the final touch in front of goal as Farizal again came to Malaysia's rescue four minutes after the hour mark as the visiting goalkeeper turned away Hamdan Al Kamali's free-kick.

Mahmoud Khamis was the next to go close for the home side as he fired wide before Fares Juma fired over the crossbar with 10 minutes remaining.

Malaysia nearly kept their slim hopes of qualifying alive in the last minute but a free-kick from captain Mohamad Aidil was straight at UAE goalkeeper Naser.

And with time running out Abdulsalam Jumaa found Khalil and the substitute curled a sublime strike past Farizal from the edge of the area.

Meanwhile, Iran defeated Singapore 3-1 in the Asian Cup 2011 qualifiers to secure their berth at the Qatar tournament, while the Singaporeans must wait until Matchday 6 to secure their own place.

In Manama, Bahrain coach Milan Macala declared it was mission accomplished after seeing Ismaeel Abdulatif fire a nine-minute hat-trick in a 4-0 demolition of Hong Kong that qualified the Gulf nation for the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar.

In Hangzhou, host China and Syria drew 0-0 in an Asian Cup qualifier on Wednesday with both teams having already advanced to next year's tournament in Qatar.

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