DOHA: Mongolia secured a surprise 1-0 win over Myanmar while Malaysia twice came from behind to beat Indonesia 3-2 in stoppage time as the second round of Asia’s qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup finals kicked off on Thursday.
Aramaa Dulguun scored with a well-taken strike in the 17th minute in Ulaanbaatar to earn Mongolia a win in their first-ever appearance at this stage of World Cup qualifying.
Yet the most dramatic action came in Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium where Mohamadou Sumareh scored in the seventh minute of injury time to give Malaysia a victory in a game that had to be temporarily halted because of crowd trouble.
Indonesia took an early lead against their bitter regional rivals when Beto slipped the ball under goalkeeper Farizal Marlias 12 minutes into the game.
Ghana-born midfielder Sumareh levelled shortly before the break with his first involvement after coming off the bench, only for Beto to restore Indonesia’s lead two minutes later with a fine strike from outside the area.
Syafiq Ahmad restored parity midway through the half with a deft header before the game was suspended for several minutes late in the second half because of clashes between fans from the two countries who have a heated football rivalry. Video footage showed some supporters running onto the track surrounding the pitch, apparently trying to get to opposing fans.
When the game restarted, Sumareh met a low cross for a close-range finish.
The result means Malaysia lead the early standings in Group ‘G’, ahead of Thailand and Vietnam, who played out a goalless draw in Pathum Thani.
Jordan took all three points from their Group ‘B’ encounter away against Chinese Taipei, with Baha Faisal and Ahmed Samir giving Vital Bourkelmans’ side a two-goal lead at halftime before Wen Chih-hao claimed a late consolation.
Jordan are joined at the top of Group ‘B’ by Kuwait, who hammered Nepal 7-0.
Syria came from a goal behind to thrash the Philippines 5-2 in Group ‘A’ while the Maldives also picked up three points with a 1-0 win away against Guam.
In Group ‘C’, Hong Kong were held to a 1-1 draw in Cambodia and Iraq scored a late equaliser through Mohanad Ali to draw 1-1 with Bahrain.
Almoez Ali grabbed a hat-trick as World Cup hosts and reigning Asian champions Qatar eased to a 6-0 win over Afghanistan in Group ‘E’ while Rabia Al-Mandhar scored in injury time as Oman stunned India 2-1.
Sunil Chhetri gave India the lead midway through the first half in the north-eastern Indian city of Guwahati but Al-Mandhar equalised in the 83rd minute before curling in a right-footed shot to decide the match.
Mongolia are joined in pole position in Group ‘F’ by Tajikistan, who beat Central Asian neighbours Kyrgyzstan 1-0 in Dushanbe courtesy of a goal from Alisher Dzhalilov.
Palestine pulled off an upset with a 2-0 win over heavily fancied Uzbekistan in Group ‘D’, while Singapore drew 2-2 with Yemen.
North Korea made a winning start in Group ‘H’ with former Asian Young Player of the Year Jong Il Gwan scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Lebanon in Pyongyang as Turkmenistan picked up a 2-0 victory over Sri Lanka.
The winners of each of the eight groups and the four best second-placed teams will advance to the 2023 Asian Cup in China and the final round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
However, if Qatar win their group, the seven other group winners and five best second-placed sides will advance to the next round.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2019