Muscat: Oman concluded their campaign in the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup Thailand 2023 on a victorious note as they claimed the bronze medal with a 4-2 victory against the United Arab Emirates in the third-place playoff at the Jomtien Beach Arena in Pattaya on Sunday.
The victory is a boost for Talib Hilal-coached Oman as they now train their sights on November’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup UAE 2023.
Later in the evening on Sunday, Iran were at their awesome best as they defeated Japan 6-0 in the final to clinch their third Asian crown. The victory meant that Iran have drawn level with Japan on three titles each.
A day after Oman had lost to Iran in the semi-finals, the players displayed a lot of resilience as they came back strongly to earn a place on the podium.
UAE got off to a bright start with Rashed Yaqoub scoring with the first kick of the ball when he struck from the centre of the pitch to the top right corner of Oman’s net.
Oman tried to respond in similar fashion through Khalid Al Araimi but UAE keeper Younis Al Owaisi easily blocked his effort. The Emiratis looked more likely to score with each passing minute with Kamal Ali sending a looping drive from distance over the bar in the 11th minute before Ali Mohammad just failed to find the target on the turn moments later.
Oman, however, responded in stunning fashion at the start of the second half with Mushel Al Araimi teeing up Khalid Al Araimi, who scored much like UAE’s opener with goalkeeper Mohamed Abdulla rooted.
The action came thick and fast with both sides jostling for the upper hand with Yahya Al Muraiki, putting Oman in front when he slotted home from a set-piece situation in the 22nd minute.
UAE almost equalised a minute later through Walid Mohammad, who had his shot palmed away by Younis Al Owaisi but the keeper couldn’t deny the Emiratis much longer as Rashed Yaqoub scored his second goal from the spot in the closing stages of the half.
Oman turned up the tempo in the third half with Sami Al Balushi netting in the 26th and 27th minutes thanks to assists from Khalid Al Araimi.
The onus was on UAE to find their way back into the tie but their chance never came as Oman held on to seal the win.
Iran dominant in title triumph
It was a tense start with neither team allowing the other space but it was Iran who had the first look on goal with Amir Akbari sending his overhead kick just above the bar.
Despite Japan’s man-marking, Iran scored the opening goal in spectacular fashion when Movahed Mohammadpour collected a long pass from keeper Seyedmahdi Mirjajili before finishing acrobatically in the fourth minute.
Japan struggled to find their footing and suffered another setback in the eighth minute with Mirjajili the orchestrator again when he set up Ali Mirshekari for another acrobatic finish leaving Shinya Shibamoto well beaten.
Japan were missing the attacking play which had seen them breeze to the final and had no answer to Iran’s aggression when they conceded again in the 20th minute after Mirjajili’s throw was deflected by Movahed to an unmarked Moslem Mesigar to slam the ball home.
Iran piled more misery on Japan in the 29th minute when Shibamoto was dispossessed in his own area by Mohammadali Mokhtari before slotting home the fourth into an empty goalmouth. Iran furthered their advantage in the 35th minute following an own goal by Japan’s Kosuke Matsuda before Mirshekari added the sixth with seconds left on the clock to seal the win and clinch their third title.
(With inputs from www.the-afc.com)