Arshad Al Alawi scored a brace as Oman defeated Malaysia 3-0 in a Group C clash in the AFC U16 Championships on Friday.
Oman went into the break a goal to the good thanks to Arshad Al Alawi’s well-struck penalty midway through the first half.
Yousuf Al Malki added another from the spot with half an hour remaining before Arshad Al Alawi’s second of the night 12 minutes from time wrapped up the victory as Oman moved to the top of the standings ahead of Iraq, who defeated Korea Republic 2-1 in Friday’s earlier Group C encounter.
Oman had the better of the opening exchanges and almost went in front after five minutes when defender Yahya Al Hudaifi fired just inches wide from 15 yards.
The Gulf nation took a deserved lead in the 20th minute after Muatasim Al Bakri was upended in the box by Muhammad A’sif and Arshad Al Alawi confidently dispatched the ensuing penalty to goalkeeper Firdaus Imran’s right.
Malaysia came back into the game and Muhammad Izreen was handed a golden opportunity on the half hour mark, only to shoot wide from after ‘keeper Yousuf Al Sheyadi parried out Zainul Arifin’s effort from distance.
Two-time champion Oman was the superior team, though, and Thamir Al Zaabi’s neat flick from Arshad Al Alawi’s cross forced Imran to pull off a decent save
Yaqoub Al Sabahi’s side should have doubled its advantage seven minutes after the restart when Mohammed Al Alawi’s low cross was diverted over the crossbar by Al Zaabi from just a few yards out when it looked easier to score.
But with Oman only a goal up, Malaysia still had a fighting chance of getting something from a match in which it had rarely looked a goalscoring threat.
And as the hour approached Izreen forced Al Sheyadi to push wide, before captain Muhamad Feroz’s goal from the ensuing corner was ruled out for offside.
Oman was awarded another penalty on the hour after Al Shajibi danced through the Malaysia backline and was eventually brought down by Nor Amirul.
This time Al Malki was given the responsibility only to see his spot kick well blocked by Imran, but the defender was on hand to fire home the rebound and put his side in a commanding position.
The result was then put beyond doubt on 78 minutes when Arshad Al Alawi drilled low into the bottom left corner for his second goal in the game.
Oman coach Yaqoub Al Sabahi said: "I want to congratulate my team. It was a very good start to the tournament and we needed to take the three points to give us confidence. There were some mistakes, sure, so we need to continue to improve our level as the next two opponents are very strong.
"We prepared for the game very well. Our target was to get the three points so we have started very well. We made some mistakes and now we want to correct them over the next two days."
Malaysia coach Somasundram Periasamy said: "I feel we conceded two soft goals and were not organised or composed enough to deal with the pressure Oman put us under. We made a lot of mistakes in defending and our passing was not positive so we have to accept the defeat.
"Our midfield was very soft today and we gave them a lot of room. This tournament is a higher intensity [than previous tournaments] and there is a high demand to get three points and go to the World Cup."
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