China's defender Zhu Chenjie (right) marks Oman's midfielder Zahir al-Aghbari during the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian Qualifiers football match between Oman and China, at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex stadium in the capital Muscat, on March 29, 2022. (MOHAMMED MAHJOUB / AFP)
MUSCAT - China lost 2-0 away in Oman in their final 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifying game in Muscat on Tuesday.
Neither China nor Oman had a chance to reach the World Cup before the game, and both sides were playing for pride to wrap up their qualifying campaign.
Oman dominated the game, with four shots on target from 11 attempts. Despite having more of the ball, China failed to test Oman goalkeeper Ibrahim Al-Mukhaini, and had zero shots on target
The hosts dominated the game, with four shots on target from 11 attempts. Despite having more of the ball, China failed to test Oman goalkeeper Ibrahim Al-Mukhaini, and had zero shots on target.
"Oman played very well, they were quick in fast breaks. It was modern football," said China head coach Li Xiaopeng. "We tried to press and attack, but we couldn't match up with our opponents in transition. They deserved to win."
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It was Oman who had the first attempt just three minutes into the game when Khalid Al-Hajri's right-footed shot from outside the box went just wide. Six minutes later, Salaah Al-Yahyaei fired from distance and his shot hit the crossbar.
Oman broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when Arshad Al-Alawi fired home beyond the reach of China goalkeeper Yan Junling.
In the second half, Li sent on several attacking players including Hao Junmin, Zhang Xizhe and Liu Binbin, but the changes failed to have much effect.
"I wanted to use more skillful and quick players to make more combinations, but obviously it didn't go as I expected," Li rued.
Abdullah Fawaz made it 2-0 to Oman in the 74th minute when he slotted home from Salaah Al-Yahyaei's pass following a fast break.Oman head coach Branko Ivanovic praised his team for playing a great technical match. "We created many chances and the players were disciplined. I am completely satisfied with what the players have done. We have young players who have a great future."
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China concluded their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign fifth in Group B with six points from one win, three draws and six losses. Li cited that the main reason for his team's early elimination was a lack of quality.
"It has been a long and hard journey for my players, and they have tried their best. We need to improve the pace and intensity of our game. If we want to have better performance at next year's home AFC Asian Cup, we have to work harder."
After the conclusion of Asia's World Cup qualifiers, Iran, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia have qualified directly to Qatar, with Australia and the UAE facing each other in a playoff in June to determine Asia's final qualifier.
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