Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pakistan shock in Olympic qualifiers second-leg

Pakistan caused the biggest upset in the preliminary qualifying round for the Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 when they shocked nine-man Singapore 3-2 in the second leg at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore for an aggregate 5-3 victory. Pakistan coach Muhammad Rasheed gave full credit for the astounding victory to teamwork. “I am happy that the team showed resilience in the later stages of the match,” he told AFCMedia. Pakistan Football Federation President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat announced a cash reward of Rs 1 million (approx USD 16,500) to the team while general secretary Muhammad Arshad Khan Lodhi announced a cash prize of Rs 500,000 (approx USD 8,200).

In Kolkata, India had goalkeeper Subrata Paul to thank for a neat 4-1 win over Myanmar on penalties after the second leg ended a goal apiece at the Salt Lake Stadium, tying the aggregate score 2-2. Paul stopped two shots to earn India in the second round. Having clinched the first leg 1-0, Thailand ran riot against Turkmenistan for a huge 5-1 win at the Supachalasai Stadium in Bangkok. Australia’s progress to the second round might have been a foregone conclusion after their 11-0 first leg win over Chinese Taipei but only a solitary goal separated the two sides in the second leg at the Chungshan Stadium in Taipei.

Uzbekistan wrapped up an aggregate 6-1 win against Tajikistan at the Central Republican Stadium in Dushanbe after their 4-1 first leg victory. Yemen made sure of second round qualifying action with a 1-1 draw in the second leg for an aggregate 3-2 win over Palestine (first leg 2-1). In the one-off tie between Vietnam and Afghanistan played at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh, the hosts won 2-0. Hong Kong wrapped up an aggregate 3-1 win over Bangladesh despite losing the second leg at home in the Chungshai Stadium 1-0.

The 24-team second round qualifying, which has been split into six groups of four each, runs through 28 February to 6 June 2007, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the Final round which will be played in three groups of four teams each. The Final home-and-away round will be held from 22 August until 21 November 2007, with the three group winners representing Asia at the Beijing Olympic Games. China have automatic qualification as hosts.

Asian Olympic Qualifiers Second Round Groups

Group A: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Pakistan
Group B: Japan, Malaysia, Syria, Hong Kong
Group C: Oman, Lebanon, Vietnam, Indonesia
Group D: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Australia
Group E: Iraq, DPR Korea, Thailand, India
Group F: Korea Republic, UAE, Uzbekistan, Yemen

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