*** ----> Bahrain through to knockouts at AFC Asian Cup! | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain through to knockouts at AFC Asian Cup!

TDT | Manama                                                     

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain booked their berth in the round of 16 of the AFC Asian Cup in Doha yesterday with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Jordan in their concluding Group E match of the preliminary round. Abdulla Yusuf fired in the winning goal in the first half to earn the full three points for the Bahrainis and their place in the knockouts.

The result was their second win in three games for six points in this phase of the tournament. They marched forward as winners of Group E. Following a challenging first stage, the national team’s job does not get any easier, as they next face off with continental powerhouses Japan in the last 16.

That game is scheduled to be played on Wednesday next week at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. South Korea made it through as Group E runners-up with five points, while the Jordanians finished third with four points and also advanced as one of the best four third-placers from the six pools in the preliminaries.

Malaysia finished last with one point. The Malaysians claimed their lone draw of the group following a thrilling 3-3 stalemate against the South Koreans in yesterday’s other divisional clash. Jeong Woo-Yeong was on target for South Korea in the 21st minute, but then Malaysia hit back with two goals within an 11-minute span to start the second half.

Faisal Halim was first to strike in the 51st minute, while Arif Aiman put the Malaysians ahead with a goal in the 52nd minute. Lee Kang-In equalised with seven minutes remaining in regular time with a left-footed free kick, and then Son Heung-Min converted a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time to appear to give the South Koreans the win.

But Malaysia had one last say, and Romel Morales fired in a stunning leveller in the 15th minute of second-half stoppage time to claim a share of the points. Bahrain’s contest with Jordan yesterday was played at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, with nearly 40,000 fans in attendance.



Yusuf scored for the nationals in the 34th minute following a fine through-pass supplied by Ali Madan, the hero in their previous match against Malaysia earlier this week. Madan’s short assist released Yusuf for a one-on-one against Jordanian goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila, and the towering striker made no mistake with his effort, slotting the ball home into bottom-right corner of the net with a low shot from the outside edge of the penalty box.

The Bahrainis should have doubled their advantage just four minutes later when Yusuf managed an off-balance pass to Mohammed Marhoon in the face of goal. But Marhoon sent his shot inches over the crossbar and should have converted. Yusuf had another chance on the stroke of half-time, but fired wide with his left foot from a metre outside of the box.

That sent Bahrain into the half with the slim one-goal lead. After the restart, Yusuf and Marhoon had an opportunity to threaten as they charged towards goal in the 54th minute, but Yusuf left it for Marhoon with a weak pass and it was cleared by the Jordanian defence.

Bahrain goalkeeper Ebrahim Luthfallah also played his part in the victory. On the hour-mark, he calmy collected a header on target from Jordan’s Ali Olwan, and then in the 72nd minute made a diving save on a Yazan Al Naimat shot that bounced off the pitch towards goal.

The Bahrainis continued to press for a second until the very end, and a minute from regular time Yusuf hit a powerful freekick that flew on target straight towards Abulaila, who made a brave save. Yesterday’s win for Bahrain followed their 1-3 loss to South Korea in their opening Group E fixture last week, and a last-gasp 1-0 stunner against Malaysia.