Abdulaziz Al-Muqbali and Osama Omari emerged heroes as Oman and Syria capitalised upon their chief rivals’ inactivity to retake pole position in their respective pools. Kuwait spurned the chance to do the same, while Jordan, Korea DPR, Qatar and Thailand won to strengthen their leadership grips. FIFA.com reflects on the Matchday 6 action.
Vietnam 0-3 Thailand
Goals: Kroekrit Thaweekarn 29, Dinh Tien Thanh 56 (OG), Theeraton Bunmathan 70
A balanced battle was anticipated in Hanoi. A tiny Thai didn’t fancy adhering to that script. The 1.62m Kroekrit Thaweekarn scored the first with a vicious strike, set up the second and terrorised the Vietnamese incessantly until his late withdrawal. Captain Theerathon Bunmathan got the third, finishing off a sublime team move after Pokklaw A Nan's back-heel. The result sent Thailand five points clear of second-placed Iraq in Group F, with Vietnam a further point back.
The other attractions
Timor Leste and Malaysia were both seeking their first Group A win in Dili. The visitors got it, with veteran forward Amri Yahyah’s early goal proving enough. That saw the Malaysians leapfrog their hosts into fourth.
Jordan followed up their 2-0 defeat of Australia by downing Tajikistan 3-0 to go four points clear at the Group B summit. Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, cut the gap to the second-placed Socceroos to a point following a 2-0 reverse of Bangladesh.
Qatar made it maximum points from five outings in Group C by thrashing Maldives 4-0, with Boualem Khoukhi netting a brace. Jose Daniel Carreno’s side duly stayed five points clear of nearest challengers Hong Kong, who snatched victory in Bhutan thanks to Chan Siu Ki’s last-gasp header.
In Group D, hosts Oman beat India 3-0 to go three points clear of inactive Iran, while Turkmenistan overcame Guam 1-0. Guwanc Abylow got the goal – his second in as many games after he broke his World Cup qualifying duck last week.
Omari’s brilliant hat-trick was central to Syria beating Afghanistan 5-2 in a thriller, and elevating them two points above Japan in Group E. Faris Ramli and Fazrul Shahul scored in each half as Singapore saw off Cambodia 2-1 at home, a result which saw the Lions move level with Japan on points.
In Group G, Kuwait were held to a goalless draw by Lebanon, which left them two points behind leaders Korea Republic, and Myanmar sunk Laos 3-1 to leap from the bottom. Teenager Aung Thu sealed Myanmar’s first win five minutes after the restart.
Young forward Jong Il-gwan struck the only goal from the spot in the first half as Group H leaders Korea DPR edged Yemen 1-0 at home and restored their four-point cushion. It marked the 2010 AFC Young Player of the Year's second match-winner this campaign, having sealed a solitary-goal victory in Bahrain. The Bahrainis, meanwhile, dispatched Philippines 2-0 at home to reignite their hopes.
*Abdulaziz Al-Muqbali rose from the bench for the start of the second half with Oman being held by India. The 26-year-old responded by scored twice to inspire a routine victory. Al-Muqbali
was prolific in Men’s Olympic Football Tournament qualifying, where Oman came so close to reaching London 2012, and netted a crucial goal in the Brazil 2014 preliminaries to take his nation through to Asia’s final qualifying round.
Do you know?
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
What they said
"We had a hard job to do though we got six points from two matches and that's it. There is still a long way for Singapore football to reach the next level, but credit goes to the players for giving their all in the 90 minutes," Bernd Stange, Singapore coach.
Matchday 6 results:
Group A: Timor Leste 0-1 Malaysia
Group B: Kyrgyzstan 2-0 Bangladesh, Jordan 3-0 Tajikistan
Group C: Bhutan 0-1 Hong Kong, Qatar 4-0 Maldives
Group D: Turkmenistan 1-0 Guam, Oman 3-0 India
Group E: Singapore 2-1 Cambodia, Syria 5-2 Afghanistan
Group F: Vietnam 0-3 Thailand
Group G: Myanmar 3-1 Laos, Kuwait 0-0 Lebanon
Group H: Korea DPR 1-0 Yemen, Bahrain 2-0 Philippines