Male: Oman and Palestine qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 UAE with two games to spare as Pim Verbeek’s side posted a 3-1win over the Maldives in Group D on Tuesday.
Khalid Al Hajri and an own goal from Ali Amdhan handed Oman a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes at the National Stadium only for Ali Fasir to reduce the deficit for the home side midway through the first half.
But with Ahmed Mubarak restoring Oman’s advantage just before the hour mark, coupled with Palestine’s earlier 10-0 win over Bhutan, the pair are guaranteed a top-two finish and a place in the 24-team tournament in the United Arab Emirates as the first qualifiers for the Finals.
For Oman, it is the fourth time they will appear in the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup having also qualified two years ago in Australia, with Palestine securing a second consecutive appearance having made their debut in 2015.
With September’s 5-0 home win over the Maldives still fresh in their memory, Oman made a fast start in Male as Al Hajri opened the scoring after 14 minutes.
And Oman doubled their advantage four minutes later as Amdhan turned the ball past Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal.
The home side, though, regrouped and hit back after 24 minutes as Fasir converted from Mohamed Umair’s assist.
But Oman were not to be denied as Mubarak restored the two-goal advantage three minutes before the hour mark to secure a third win of the campaign.