Doha: Qatar suffered a massive shock at the hands of an unassuming Yemen, losing 1-6 to their war-ravaged opponents in their opening match in Group E of the AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers at Al Arabi Stadium on Wednesday.
Qatar started the stronger of the two and took the lead in the seventh minute through a cracking strike from their forward Jassim Fahad Al Zarra.
When the Qatari midfielder, lucky to keep the ball in possession despite a challenge from the defender, buried his powerful shot from an acute angle into the top corner, giving Yemeni goalkeeper Abdullah Abdulhakim Al Sadi no chance, it looked they were in for a comfortable evening.
But Yemen equalised in the 18th when a seemingly innocuous free kick from the centre circle found Osamah Samer Al Baadani unmarked inside the box and the left winger coolly slotted the ball past Qatari keeper Yousef Balideh, and all of a sudden it looked a different story.
Yemen started playing confidently after the goal and took the lead in the 27th as Jassim, who scored Qatar’s opener, turned villain when he handled the ball inside the box.
Defender Sultan Yousef Thabit easily converted from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Yemen continued to dominate the game, their players confidently stroking the ball around and attacking at will, and even had the ball in Qatar net once again soon, but it was ruled out for offside.
Qatar brought in Saoud Al Yafei in place of Yahya Mashoor Alleimon and Abdulrahman Hassan for Ahmad Khalid Al Obaidli in the 60th minute, but seven minutes later they conceded again.
Yet again it was a defensive lapse that left Tamer Nadhel Sanen in possession inside Qatar area and the Yemen forward surged ahead and slotted the ball home to make it 3-1.
Yemen were only getting better and in the 81st minute, Yahya Esam Al Baleet menacingly cut in from the left flank and finished off with a beautiful shot from outside the box for what was undoubtedly the goal of the match.
Osamah, who started Yemen’s fightback, scored a fifth goal just five minutes later before Hamzah Mohammed Sabah completed the rout in added time.
“We had a good start and we managed to take the lead through a good goal. But they equalised and then we lost our rhythm after conceding the penalty from which they took the lead,” said Qatar coach Miguel Angel Ramirez Medina.
“We had to score and were on the attack and that left big spaces in our defence which they capitalised on.”
“The boys were playing a competitive game of such scope for the first time,” said Medina.
Yemen coach Sabah Khatam said the people in their country need anything that can put a smile on their faces in these tough times.
“Today I’m happy for two reasons. Firstly I'm happy for the win and secondly, I'm happy for the people of Yemen. I'm very proud of my players.”
Then he added.
“There's no logic in football,” and that explained everything.