2018 Men's Asian Games: Qualifiers Oman reigns supreme
A clinical display by hosts Oman saw it subdue Bangladesh 2-0 in the final of the 2018 Men's Asian Games Qualifiers at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC) on Saturday night.
The win kept the hosts slate clean as Tahir Zaman's men remained unbeaten in the five matches it played since the opener on March 8.
The final against Bangladesh was touted as the first major test for former Pakistan great Tahir Zaman since he took over Oman reigns in January this year. And the FIH senior coach came out with flying colours as he led the hosts to a stunning win over the higher-ranked Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, ranked No 30 in the world, was expected to provide the stiffest test to Oman, ranked 32nd, in the event.
In his remarks to Muscat Daily after the victory, Zaman said, “All credit to boys. They have worked very hard throughout the tournament. We have been using our total strength by
playing as a team and combined play. The boys are heroes of the tournament and deservedly claimed the trophy.”
Following easy wins in the pool games and then a 8-0 thrashing of Thailand in the semifinal, expectations were high from the hosts against a team that was also unbeaten in the qualifiers till its loss on Saturday.
Unlike Oman, Bangladesh had to toil for its semifinal win as it edged past Sri Lanka 3-2 in a thrilling match on Thursday.
On Saturday, Oman's Rashad al Fazari drew first blood minutes before half-time as he converted a penalty corner. The hosts, then, struck immediately after the restart as Basim Khatar scored off a penalty stroke to give a two-goal cushion that they kept intact till the final hooter for a memorable win.
With the teams fighting hard, Chinese and Malaysian umpires had a hard time controlling the high emotions with Bangladesh's Hasan Jubair and Oman's Ahmed al Balushi earning yellow cards (five-minute suspension).
Earlier Sri Lanka claimed the third-place with an emphatic 4-1 win over Thailand. On Friday, Chinese Taipei sealed the fifth and final spot for the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia with a 4-0 win over Kazakhstan.
The five qualified teams – Oman, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Chinese Taipei – will join hosts Indonesia and the top six Asian nations at the Games. The top six nations that have made it directly are India, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and China.
Later, the chief guest, H E Dr Fuad al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, gave away the awards. Fazari and Basim also emerged as the joint top-scorers for Oman with five goals each while Hong Kong’s Kin Kan Tsang was the tournament’s top scorer with ten goals.