MUSCAT: A scintillating display by Oman saw Talib Hilal's men hammer China 11-0 in the quarter-finals of the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup Thailand 2023 in Pattaya, Thailand, on Thursday.
The huge margin will give Team Oman, Asian champions in 2015, a lot of confidence ahead of a mouth-watering semi-finals clash against Iran, who beat Bahrain 10-0 in another quarter-final game on Thursday.
Oman, along with three other semi-finalists, also secured their spots in the 2023 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, to be held in November in UAE.
This will be Oman's fifth appearance in the Beach Soccer World Cup and the third in a row, having participated in 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2021 editions.
The semi-final showdown will be played on Saturday.
In the other semi-finals, UAE will meet defending champions Japan. UAE edged past hosts Thailand 4-2 while holders Japan routed Kuwait 8-0.
Against China on Thursday, it only took Oman three minutes to break the deadlock with Mushel Al Araimi striking with a stinging grounded free-kick past China keeper Song Song.
China were caught napping a minute later when Khalid Al Oraimi’s corner kick found an unmarked Abdullah Masoud at the far post for an easy tap-in.
China could barely keep up with Oman’s pace and their constant pressing left the two-time semi-finalists in disarray as Song suffered a case of bad luck when he failed to save Mushel Al Araimi’s high clearance from his own half.
Oman gave China no breathing space as they scored again immediately upon the restart when Salim Al Araimi set up Sami Al Balushi for a clinical overhead finish before Ahmed Al Owaisi turned on the style four minutes later, scoring with a diving header off Khalid Al Araimi’s long pass.
Oman, who won the title only once in 2015, showed no signs of stopping as they scored again in the 21st minute with Nooh Al Batttashi squeezing his way into the danger area before setting up Sami Al Balushi for a simple finish.
The duo would combine again with Sami netting Oman’s seventh in the closing stages of the half.
Al Yaqdhan Hindasi got into the action, showing good skill inside the danger area before slotting home in the 30th minute before Ahmed Al Owaisi made it 9-0 a minute later off a rapid counter-attacking move.
The goals continued to flow for Oman with Mandhar Al Araimi finding the back of the net in the 33rd minute, with Sami closing their account in the closing seconds of the game.
[With inputs from the-afc.com]