Qatar started their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign in style, blanking Vietnam 3-0 in the opening leg of their second round match at the Sheikh Jassem Stadium in Doha Saturday.
AFP - Vietnam's Le Tan Tai (R) challenges Qatar's Mohammed Razaq during their 2014 World Cup Asian zone qualifying football match in Doha on July 23, 2011.
After Mohammed Kasola opened the scoring for the hosts in the sixth minute, second half goals from Mishal Mubarak and Yousef Ahmed completed the win as Qatar put behind them their shocking 2-1 defeat to India in last week’s friendly. The return leg will be held in Hanoi on July 28.
Saturday’s result means Qatar have now bettered their head-to-head record against Vietnam to 3-0, with one match drawn. Qatar hammered the Southeast Asian rivals 4-0, both at home and away in the World Cup 1994 qualifiers. The two sides played out to a 1-1 draw at the Asian Cup in 2007.
Qatar coach Milovan Rajevac was happy to have started off the campaign with a win.
“It was a good result for us. And I’m happy that we did not concede any goal in the match, which is crucial when we travel to Vietnam for the return leg,” said Rajevac, for whom it was the first competitive match since taking over the reigns from Frenchman Bruno Metsu in February.
“I have full faith in my players, who are experienced. So I expect another good result in the return leg,” added the Serbian.
Qatar made a brisk start, going for attack from the onset. Khalfan Ibrahim tested Manh Dung at the Vietnamese goal in the second minute.
With Qatar piling pressure it was just a matter of time before they found the net. And in the sixth minute, Kasola headed home for a 1-0 lead. Wisam Rizik picked out Bilal Mohamed with a lofted free-kick from 30 yards, which the Qatar captain headed towards a well-positioned Kasola for a simple nod.
Vietnam had a great opportunity to level in the 21st minute when Tan Tai put Le Cong Vinh through but the striker was denied by a brilliant save from Qatar goalkeeper Qasim Burhan.
The pressure was once again back on the visitors with Lawrence Quaye going close in the 23rd minute with a cracking shot from outside the area. But their goalkeeper Dung was alert this time to deny the Al Gharafa midfielder with a fine save.
Qatar continued to create chances but failed to extend their lead due to poor finishing. Sebastian Soria weaved through the Vietnamese defence in the 33rd minute but his follow-up shot was wayward. Moments later, the Qatar Sports Club striker had another scoring chance but disappointed with his finishing as he blasted his shot over the bar.
Vietnam’s Van Quyet took a chance from a distance on the stroke of half time but his left-foot drive missed the far post by inches and Qatar took their slender lead into the break.
The visitors showed urgency early in the second half. Vietnam midfielders Tai Em, Quyet and Tan Tai demonstrated more understanding, making their moves inside the Qatari territory, but were unable to get past the tight defence.
With the match opening up, Qatar began to use the free space to double their lead six minutes into the second half. Rizik slipped a pass from the left to find Mubarak inside the area. The Al Rayyan defender quickly latched on to the ball and shot a low right-footer past the diving Vietnamese ’keeper.
On the hour mark, Vietnam coach Falko Goetz decided to go all-out on the attack as he replaced defender Tran Dinh Dong with forward Quang Hai. But that had little effect as Qatar maintained their domination.
“The boys gave their best and fought till the end. But they committed some terrible mistakes, which allowed Qatar to score goals,” Goetz reacted to the result. “We’ll try our best when we play at home as we have nothing to lose.”
In the 68th minute, substitute Yousef Ahmed made it 3-0 for the hosts. Ibrahim Majed sliced his back-volley but the ball landed in front of Ahmed, who slotted past ’keeper Dung to put the match beyond the Vietnamese.