CRUSHING BLOW

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N GANESH

, DSP MAGAZINE , COVER STORY

Egot Krimets’s 85th-minute  goal wins it for Uzbekistan

QATAR’s hopes of booking a maiden World Cup berth in Russia suffered a big jolt when they lost to Uzbekistan for their second straight defeat in the final round of the Asian Zone qualification on Tuesday.

Against Uzbekistan, Qatar dominated possession and created enough opportunities, but terribly lacked the cutting edge in the final third as the central Asians scored the only goal of the match from a set-piece in the 85th minute. 

Egot Krimets made the difference when he buried substitute Alexander Geynrikh’s free-kick from about 25 metres in the right bottom corner.

“Our plan was to not concede a goal and break the rival attack. In the second half, we had to go forward to create chances. We had players on the bench, we used them according to our plan and it worked. We did our job well,” said an upbeat Uzbekistan coach Samvel Babayan.

Qatar, who had let in two goals in injury time in the opening match against Iran in Tehran last week to go down 0-2, thus slipped to the rock bottom of Group A while Uzbekistan, with two wins, climbed to the top.

Eight more matches remain in the round, but Qatar, the only team not to have opened account, will find it hard to turn things around from here.

Looking back, Qatar’s attacking midfielders, Rodrigo Tabata, Hassan Al Haidous and Akram Afif, failed to provide the desired spark to the team.

While young Akram Afif lacked precision, Tabata looked timid and Hassan Al Haidous, who played with a hamstring injury, remained quiet.

“Of course, we had a problem in the level of our attacking midfielders and it’s true that our striker Sebastian (Soria) didn’t receive enough passes,” said Qatar coach Daniel Carreno, who described the result as a hard blow.

He had made four changes to the line-up that started against Iran. While Al Rayyan goalkeeper Omar Barry was handed international debut in place of Amine Lecomte, Mohammed Mousa replaced Pedro Miguel as the right-back and Akram started ahead of Ali Asad, mostly owing to fatigue.

Qatar started on a confident note, attacking along the wings and through the middle. They got the best chance in the 21st minute when Soria went up to the byline and pulled the ball back for Mousa, whose header went wide.

Holding midfielder Ahmed Maksoud and defender Ahmed Yasser, with some fine interceptions, made sure Qatar did not concede any goals in the first half.

While the hosts continued in the same vein after resumption, the Uzbeks steadily upped the ante. Qatar’s defender Boulaem Khoukhi produced a stunning bicycle kick in the 66th minute, but the ball hit the crossbar and bounced back into play.

When it looked the match would end in a goalless draw, Yasser, who had a great game otherwise, conceded a free-kick on the right. And it resulted in his team concede yet another goal in dying minutes. DSP

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