15 Nov 2017 - 0:51
Injury-time goal helps Qatar hold World Cup bound Iceland
By Armstrong Vas / The Peninsula
An injury-time goal from Mohammed Muntari helped hosts Qatar to hold 2018 FIFA World Cup bound Iceland to a fighting 1-1 draw in a friendly at the Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Stadium of Al Duhail club yesterday.
Qatar, who lost to Czech Republic, a traditional powerhouse 1-0 on Saturday through an early goal made sure they did not commit the same mistake.
The hosts, ranked 97 on the FIFA computer. set up a fast pace from the start and dictated terms to their rivals pushing the World No.21 Scandinavian side on the back foot.
The visitors, after making a splash in their first foray into international football tournaments in Euro 2016 and are going to feature at next year’s World Cup, went into the half time break leading 1-0.
In Euro 2016, Iceland presented a fierce appetite for tough football by beating former world Champions England before losing in the quarter-finals to hosts France.
The visitors took the lead in the 27th minute much against the run of play with striker Vidar Kjartansson punishing the Qatar back four for a defensive lapse.
Qatar however made sure they shared the honours at the end by scoring an equalizers in injury time.
Striker Muntari chested the floater and finding ample space and a clear view of a the goal in front o him volleyed home to beat the Iceland keeper, much to the delight of the Qatar fans.
Qatar were eager to prove a point yesterday and started proceedings on an impressive note setting up a brisk pace using the width of the pitch to launch many moves from the flanks.
Talented 20-year-old Akram Afif, who plays for Belgian club KAS Eupen on loan from Villarreal CF, was instrumental in a few threatening moves early in the first half for Qatar. Afif, who preferred to play close to the central medio created a few ripples with his defense splitting passes.
The hosts, who had 65 percent ball possession in the first half, also tried to break free the Iceland defense shackles with a couple of long rangers.
Hassan Al Haydos was the first to test the keeper with a 40-yard drive which the Iceland goaltender tipped over for one of the five flag kicks the hosts forced in the first period of play.
The Al Annabi also tried the aerial route to unsettle the Iceland defense but the tall defenders rose to the occasion every time to nip the danger in the bud.
With Qatar holding sway in the midfield and enjoying more ball possession the visitors came up with the occasional move and were able to rip open the defense in once such move.
The 2018 World Cup bound team took full toll of a faulty aerial defense clearance which landed at the feet of Kjartansson, the 27-year-old making no mistake in latching on to the golden chance sending his right footed drive past the Qatar goalkeeper.
The match, part of Qatar’s preparation for the upcoming Gulf Cup, which will take pace in Doha from December 22 to January 5, saw coach Felix Sanchez trying out a number of combinations in the second half. In the opposite camp, Iceland started the second half proceedings bringing in four pairs of fresh legs.
Both teams could not add to the lone goal till the injury time when Muntari brought the Iceland house down with the late strike.