Jeddah — Thursday, Saudi Arabia consolidated its top position in the Group B of the Road to Qatar AFC Asian Qualifiers 2022 with a narrow 1-0 win at home against Oman at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium. Saudi Arabia’s point tally rose to 19 points with the win, confirming at least a playoff spot.
A win in their next match could confirm their qualification to the FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022. Meanwhile, Oman’s qualification remains uncertain, with a seven-point gap for third place with only three games remaining.
Struggling to impose themselves on the game, Saudi Arabia had quite a few chances but had to fend off Omani pressure not converted into goals. Oman’s best chances came in the first half.
The opening 15 minutes lacked any real action and were more about establishing sustained possession, which neither side really managed. Finally, the home side broke through with the right-back Sultan Al Ghannam striking from the tightest of angles, but the Omani goalie Faiyz Al Rashidi comfortably held his shot.
The Omanis broke forward midway through the first half, and Harib Al Saadi teed up Rabia Al Alawi, who shot and narrowly missed. Al Saadi later made a long-range strike that sailed over the goal.
Saudi Arabia’s first close chance came at the final stages of the first 45 minutes when Firas Al Brikan headed a Yasser Al Shahrani’s cross saved by Al Rashidi. Then, minutes later, Saudi center-back Abdulelah Al Malki struck a volley from deep that the Omani keeper saved.
The Green Falcons opened their score three minutes into the second half with Salem Al Dawsari’s long ball to Al Ghannam, who struck a low shot towards keeper Al Rashidi who spilled the ball into Al Brikan’s path, who calmly passed it into the net to make the score 1-0. Khalid Al Hajri of Oman got a chance to level the game when he headed a Jameel Al Yahmadi’s corner with the ball skimming over the crossbar.
Saudi Arabia now travels to Saitama for its crunch match against second-placed Japan on Tuesday, with Oman will facing Australia in a must-win clash.