DOHA: Qatar opened their AFC U23 Championship qualifying campaign with 2-0 win over Afghanistan in Group A at the Aspire Academy ground here on Friday evening.
Two goals in the opening 35 minutes proved insurmountable for Afghanistan, as the Qataris made a successful first step in their bid to return to the finals, where they finished third in 2018.
Boasting a strong line-up featuring AFC Asian Cup-winning stars Bassam Al Rawi and Tarek Salman, Qatar were in the ascendancy from the beginning. The hosts took lead after a marauding run from Abdurahman Moustafa set up Hassan Ahmad Palang for a close range finish in the 13th minute.
Albert Caballeria’s men continued to pile on the pressure, and they doubled their lead when Al Duhail’s Abdullah Al Ahrak converted from the spot 10 minutes before half-time.
Afghanistan fought valiantly after the break, but they were unable to make any inroads. They suffered a late blow when captain Amanullah Sardari was shown a second yellow card in the third minute of stoppage time.
In another match of the same group, Oman overcame Nepal 1-0, with Yousuf Al Malki scoring the all-important goal.
Qatar will look to continue their strong start against Nepal on Sunday while Afghanistan need a result against Oman to keep their qualification hopes alive. (Source: AFC)