10 Oct 2022
A comprehensive 4-1 win over Lebanon on Sunday evening confirmed Qatar’s place at next year’s AFC Under-17 Asian Cup finals, to emulate their under-20 counterparts.
The squad of Aspire Academy student-athletes knew a win in their final qualifying game would seal their place at the top of their qualifying group in Oman after two wins and a draw in their previous games.
They got off to the perfect start on Sunday as Tahsin Mohammed scored for Qatar after just seven minutes but then had to wait until the second half to extend that lead. Substitute Ahmad Nasir Mahmood scored with his first touch of the match in the 63rd minute as he got on the end of a cross from Dekhayel Al Hamad. Five minutes later defender Ali Mohammad Shahabi made it 3-0 as he headed home a corner. There was then some respite for Lebanon when Qatar’s Rashid Muneer unfortunately put the ball past his own keeper in the 74th minute. However just six minutes later Qatar’s place at next year’s finals was confirmed when Musaed Alahrak scored with an effort from outside the box.
The academy’s student-athletes had opened their campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Iraq at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat. Iraq made a dream start to their campaign, with forward Ali Akbar Al Darraji putting them ahead in the second minute. Things were level in the 28th minute as Iraqi defender Kameran Ahmed Khudhair scored an own goal with Qatar’s win coming before half-time with midfielder Khalid Atiyaq Alshaaibi finding the target.
In their second game of the qualifiers Qatar were held to a 1-1 draw by neighbours Bahrain. Qatar took the lead in the 10th minute through defender Ali Mohammad Shahabi before Bahrain drew level with a second-half goal from midfielder Sami Bassam Awdi.
Qatar, whose players study and train at Aspire Academy, secured another 2-1 win in their third match as they beat hosts Oman 2-1 on Friday. Bassem Adel Said Eid with both goals in the second half, including one from the penalty spot. Oman, who were backed by the home crowd, had taken the lead in the seventh minute as Al Haitham Musallam Al Shekaily tapped in from close range.
A total of 16 teams will play at the finals next year with the hosts yet to be decided following Bahrain’s withdrawal from hosting the tournament. They had been due to host the finals in 2020, when the tournament was to be an AFC Under-16 Asian Cup, but the event was cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru as the AFC representatives.
The other 15 teams who have qualified for the finals are Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Vietnam, Australia, Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, South Korea, China, Afghanistan, India, Thailand and Laos.