Qatar took a long-awaited step towards AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualification, scoring an emphatic 5-0 win over Bangladesh at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium yesterday.
Abdulaziz Hatem opened the scoring before Akram Afif and Almoez Ali added two goals each as the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts took all three points in 2020’s first and only Asian Qualifiers fixture.
Asia’s first competitive international match since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the clash was attended by 1,044 socially-distanced fans.
A meeting between the Asian champions and a Bangladesh side boasting just one point from their previous four Asian Qualifiers match was also going to be a tough assignment for the South Asian side, and it took just four minutes for the alarm bells to start ringing as Qatar’s Ahmed Alaaeldin hit the post with an early headed attempt.
Five minutes later the hosts were in front, with another deflected effort, this time from the boot of Hatem, leaving Anisur Rahman helpless to prevent the ball from settling into the net.
Afif scored a brilliant second after 33 minutes, before hammering a scorching 20-yard effort into Rahman’s net, with the Bangladeshi custodian once again unable to intervene.
Qatar’s dominance of possession and tally of 18 unanswered shots at goal in the first half underlined Bangladesh’s task, and their cause was made even more difficult when the hosts were awarded a penalty, with Ali stepping to hammer home the spot-kick on the home ground of his club side, Al Duhail.
He added his second of the match six minutes later, as he bravely chested home after a terrific move involving Hatem and Ahmed Fathy to register his 29th international goal before Afif slid home Qatar’s fifth in the dying moments.
Qatar are now well-placed to finish on top of Group E of the Asian Qualifiers, which serve as the qualification path for both the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
As FIFA World Cup hosts, Qatar are automatic qualifiers for the global showpiece, but they will confirm their place at China 2023 as group winners, or as one of the four highest-ranked runners-up.
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