Saudi Arabia held by Tajikistan in qualifier but stay on course for World Cup


A goal early in the second half by Firas Al-Buraikan, his first for the national team in over two years, initially seemed to secure a victory for Roberto Mancini's team against the Central Asians for the second time in five days, putting them on track to progress with two games to spare. However, Rustam Soirov's late equalizer ensured that the match ended in a draw.

Despite a five-minute power outage in the first half at the Central Republican Stadium, Saudi Arabian fans should not feel too disappointed. Managing to secure a draw against the Asian Cup quarterfinalists on their home turf is a decent result, and a draw in Pakistan in June will be sufficient for qualification.

This draw maintains Saudi Arabia's control of Group G with 10 points from their first four games. Tajikistan moves into second place with five points, although this position is likely to be temporary as Jordan is expected to defeat Pakistan later and reach seven points.

The top two teams from each of the nine groups advance to the final round of qualification, competing for Asia's eight automatic spots at the World Cup.

Although the first half ended without goals, it was an exciting and open 45 minutes with both teams creating and missing several scoring opportunities.

Tajikistan started the game aggressively, aware that they needed a win to stay level on points with Jordan in the race for second place. They began with a flurry of chances, with Alisher Dzhalilov having three opportunities within the first 10 minutes.

However, the visitors gradually gained control of the game, dampening the excitement of the home fans. Abdullah Radif had a header saved by the goalkeeper, and Salem Al-Dawsari, who scored the winning goal in the previous match, saw his attempts thwarted.

In the dying seconds of the first half, Mohammed Al-Owais made a spectacular save from a Parvizchon Umarbaev free-kick.

The deadlock was finally broken in the second half when Saleh Al-Shehri provided a cross for Al-Buraikan to score with a looping header from the edge of the six-yard box.

Tajikistan pushed hard to equalize, and Radif missed a crucial chance just after the hour mark when he fired over from close range, potentially altering the outcome for Saudi Arabia.

With 10 minutes remaining, the home fans were energized by a swift counterattack. Amadoni Kamolov delivered a perfect cross from the right, allowing Soirov to score at the far post, leveling the score at 1-1 and setting up an intense final phase of the game.

However, neither team could find a winning goal, and Saudi Arabia will have to wait a bit longer to secure their place in the final round of qualification.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post