Qatar recorded their biggest victory in international football when they eased past tiny Bhutan 15-0 while the UAE handed Malaysia a 10-0 rout in the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers on Thursday.
Qatar’s win in Doha bettered their earlier record against Afghanistan and Lebanon whom they had beaten 8-0 in the 1980s.
Bhutan, a remote Himalayan kingdom, known more for its philosophy of Gross National Happiness than for any notable sporting achievement – its national sport is archery – endured a nightmarish outing in Doha and trailed 8-0 at half-time in the Group C match that saw Ali Asad and Mohammed Muntari notch up hat-tricks for the hosts.
Bhutan’s Japanese coach Norio Tsukitate had said before the match that his players were more worried about the desert heat than their opponents because they were more used to playing 2400 metres above sea level.
But although the match was held at the fully airconditioned Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, Bhutan still struggled and failed to put up a challenge allowing Qatar to score their second victory after a scrappy 1-0 win over the Maldives earlier in the tournament.
Malaysia’s 10-0 defeat to the UAE in Abu Dhabi, however, was more surprising considering the South East Asians actually do boast a decent sporting culture in the region.
However by half-time UAE were 7-0 ahead leaving Malaysia with no chance to stage a comeback in the Group A match.
For the UAE, Ahmed Khalil scored four goals while Ali Ahmed Makhbout had three as they notched up their second win in as many matches.
Elsewhere in West Asia, Iran defeated Guam 6-0, while Iraq beat Chinese Taipei 5-1.
– China frustrated –
Earlier in the day China were frustrated 0-0 by Hong Kong in a politically fraught qualifier while Son Heung-Min celebrated his move to Tottenham Hotspur with a hat-trick in South Korea’s 8-0 thrashing of Laos.
Japan finally got a win under coach Vahid Halilhodzic and Australia shrugged off internal problems to smash five past Bangladesh as Asia’s big fish feasted on the region’s minnows.
However, Hong Kong kept Alain Perrin’s China in check and stayed on top of Group C with a gritty draw played under tight security on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat.
Visiting fans were heard chanting “We are Hong Kong!” in English, a nod to the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s British colonial past and rising anti-Beijing sentiment.
And goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai was similarly defiant, pulling off a string of saves as Hong Kong ensured a markedly different result to their 7-0 qualifying defeat in China in 2004.
“China had a few chances at the beginning. China did well from the beginning. But God blessed us,” said Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon.
Asian champions Australia had an easier time in Perth as they cast off internal upheaval over a pay dispute to put five past Bangladesh, who are 173rd in the world rankings.
Players boycotted pre-match promotional appearances but they showed no signs of mutiny on the pitch with Celtic’s Tom Rogic scoring twice as Australia went 4-0 up before half-time.
Japan have so far endured a 2015 to forget, crashing out in the Asian Cup quarter-finals as defending champions and finishing last at last month’s four-team East Asian Cup.
But after four games without a win, they finally got off the mark under Halilhodzic, with big guns Keisuke Honda, Maya Yoshida and Shinji Kagawa all on target in a 3-0 home win against 180th-ranked Cambodia.
As a busy night of qualifiers continued, new Tottenham Hotspurs signing Son put in the performance so far when he bagged a hat-trick among South Korea’s eight unanswered goals against tiny Laos.
The second round of Asian qualifying, which finishes in March, features 39 teams and also doubles as a route to the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates. — AFP
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