World Cup Qualifying West Asia

Al Sabhi Leave it Late as Oman Stun Japan

Oman caused the first shock of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian Zone qualifying third round after the Middle Easterners had pulled off a 1-0 win over hosts Japan on Thursday night. Undeterred by the prospect of playing at the Panasonic Stadium Suita in Osaka, Oman overcame a wet pitch to land a sucker punch past Samurai Blue in the 88th minute courtesy of Issam Al Sabhi.

With Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu underneath immense pressure following their failure to secure a medal in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, the hosts were forced to soak up immense pressure from their opponents as Shuichi Gonda worked hard to deny the likes of Rabi Al Alawi and Ali Al Busaidi.

Junya Ito then threatened to open the scoring from the opposite end of the pitch, however Oman goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rashidi did well to deny the Genk winger.

Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi was introduce in half-time to boost the Samurai Blue’s attack, however it was Union Berlin’s Wataru Endo who had a sniff at Al Rashidi’s goal three minutes after the restart. The midfielder’s shot was blocked by the stubborn Omani defense, however, leaving the contest still well open.

In the 54th minute, Oman were handed a huge chance after Yuto Nagatomo was adjudged to have handled the ball within the area, prompting the referee to award the Middle Easterners with a penalty. However, after protests from the Japanese camp, the referee went to seek the advice of the video assistant referee (VAR), before overturning the penalty much to Japan’s relief once he had reviewed the replay footage.

Japan’s luck ran out two minutes before full-time, however, as Salah Al Yahyaaei surged down the right flank and sent a perfect cross towards Al Sabhi, who managed to elude Ayase Ueda before the 24-year old attacker, currently unattached to any club, swept home past Gonda to seal the win for Oman.