BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Group A kicked off matchday two of the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship on Sunday, and what an evening it was. A total of 20 goals were scored in the two matches that were played at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, in Jakarta.
Earlier in the evening, United Arab Emirates (UAE) continued their winning form, when they trounced minnows Chinese Taipei 8-1. UAE's goals were scored by Ahmad Fawzi (10'), Ali Salleh (20', 67') and Majid Rashid (35', 75'), Rashed Mubarak (51', 59') and Abdullah Al-Naqbi (70'), while Chinese Taipei's consolation goal was netted by Wu Yen-shu in the 74th minute.
Any other night, a match that ended with an 8-1 scoreline would definitely have headlined the news. But football in Indonesia rarely follows any script.
The hosts very nearly performed a spectacular comeback in their clash against Qatar, after at one point trailing 6-1. The West Asian side raced to an early 3-0 lead through goals by Hashim Ali (11'), Abdulrasheed Umaru (14') and Mohammed Waad Abdulwahhab (24'), before Luthfi Kamal Baharsyah pulled one back for the hosts with a spectacular freekick in the 28th minute. But Abdulrasheed added his second four minutes from halftime, while Hashim did the same six minutes into the second half. When Abdulrasheed completed his hat-trick in the 56th minute to score Qatar's sixth goal of the night, it seemed like the encounter was already over.
But the Garudas somehow dug deep, and inspired by second half substitution Todd Rivaldo Ferre, blitzed the Qatari defence to score four goals in about 15 minutes. Rivaldo curled in a 65th minute free kick that beat goalkeeper Salah Zakaria, before Saddil Ramdani did the same four minutes later. Two separate solo moves by Rivaldo that he finished off himself, in the 73rd and 81st minutes, reduced the margin to just one goal and completed his hat-trick, but they ultimately were not able to find the equaliser in the remaining time. The match ended in a 6-5 win to the Qataris.
UAE now lead the group with six points, while Qatar are second with three, tied on points with Indonesia in third place. Chinese Taipei are bottom with no points.
The hosts now need to defeat UAE in their final group match, while needing a huge miracle in the form of a Chinese Taipei win or draw against Qatar on the same day, in order to guarantee a passage to the quarter-final stage.
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Malaysia U-19's Hadi Fayyadh was recognised by the local fans, who asked him for photos, while training in Jakarta on Sunday. We asked him, what does he think of a club career in Indonesia? Sewaktu berlatih di Jakarta pada hari Ahad, penyerang Malaysia B19 Hadi Fayyadh turut mendapat perhatian peminat seberang, yang mengambil gambar bersamanya. Goal bertanya pendapatnya mengenai kemungkinan bekerjaya bersama mana-mana kelab Indonesia di masa depan.