Oman's Al Alawi taking a shine to Qatar’s stadiums

  • Al Mandhar Al Alawi has scored three times at Qatar's World Cup venues

  • Oman star hoping to add to tally against Tunisia in quarter-finals

  • Al Alawi: "We want to bring joy to the Omani people"

With the clock at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium showing 40 minutes and 20 seconds in Group A’s Oman-Bahrain match at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™, the ball was picked up on the right wing by Salaah Al Yahyaei.

The midfielder surged towards the goal-line before sending a low cross into the path of Abdullah Fawaz, who met it with a powerful drive that was parried by Bahraini goalkeeper Sayed Mohamed.

The rebound came back to Fawaz, who this time gently floated the ball over the keeper towards Al Mandhar Al Alawi, who rose above the defenders to head home the opening goal from barely two yards out and set Oman on the road to the last eight.

Al Alawi is no stranger to scoring important goals. Indeed, the 26-year-old has netted five times so far in the Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, with the most recent coming against Australia. His strike against Bahrain was another milestone for him, as it marked his third goal at one of next year’s FIFA World Cup stadiums.

In October 2019, Al Alawi finished magnificently against Qatar in a World Cup qualifier at the Al Janoub Stadium, before scoring against the Socceroos a year later at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Asked what it meant to him to score at Qatar 2022 arenas, Al Alwai told FIFA.com: “It’s a great honour to score goals at the stadiums that will host the World Cup. Just playing at these amazing venues is motivating in itself and gives us even more incentive to do our best.” "I hope we continue to perform well at these stadiums, and why not be here next year?" he added.

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 06: Al Mandhar Al Alawi of Oman celebrates with teammate Arshad Al Alawi after scoring their team's first goal during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Group A match between Oman and Bahrain at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on December 06, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Defying the odds

Oman still have a chance of reaching Qatar 2022™ and currently lie fourth in Group B, with four games remaining. Al Alawi and his team-mates, however, must first think about Friday's quarter-final with Tunisia at the Education City Stadium in their quest to go as far as possible at this Arab Cup. Speaking of his goal against Bahrain, Al Alawi said with a smile: "Honestly, being on the short side, I didn’t expect to score a header, although I really wanted to convert any way I could. "We want to bring joy to the Omani people, and I hope we can have another good performance against Tunisia," added the 1.66m player.

Asked if he was eager to continue his scoring streak at the World Cup stadiums, Al Alawi replied: "I definitely want to keep up my good performance and score again, and I hope I can help the team beat Tunisia and extend our successful run in the tournament." And who is to say that Al Alawi will not add to his scoring tally at the Arab Cup and possibly even return to Qatar a year from now to rack up even more goals at venues he is very familiar with.