Muscat: Overcoming an early resistance, Oman defeated Kazakhstan by a 3-0 margin in the ongoing Asian Games Hockey Qualifier at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Monday.
The victory in their final match of Pool B ensured the hosts go into Thursday’s semifinals with an unbeaten record.
Tahir Zaman-coached Oman, who had earlier defeated Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka, have already clinched one of the five qualifying berths for the 2018 Asian Games to be organised in Indonesia later this year.
On a day when Sri Lanka also booked their berth in the semifinals and the Asian Games with a come-from-behind 4-1 victory over Chinese Taipei, Oman found it difficult to break the defencce of Kazakhstan.
For most part of the first quarter, the Kazakhs matched the Omanis move for move. However, Oman managed to break the deadlock in the 14th minute through a fine field goal from Asad Mubarak Al Qasmi.
With Kazakhstan pressing hard for the equaliser and Oman too trying to double the lead, the match intensity increased but neither team succeeded in sounding the boards for the entire second quarter.
Seven minutes after the break, Oman were awarded a penalty stroke which the experienced Basim Khatar converted to make it 2-0. Oman’s third goal came off a 60th short corner converted by Ahmed Al Nofali.
Sri Lanka fight back
Earlier, after a goalless first quarter, Chinese Taipei went ahead in the 16th minute through a fine field goal scored by Sung-Ting Lu.
But their lead lasted just three minutes as the Sri Lankans found the equaliser off a short corner converted by Ishanka Doranegala.
Sandaruwan Sudusinghe doubled the lead for the island nation with a 28th minute field goal.
Sri Lanka further increased their lead five minutes into the third quarter when Anuradha Rathnayake scored the first of his two goals off a short corner.
Anuradha went on to complete Sri Lanka’s tally when scored a field goal in the 52nd minute.
Oman topped their group with nine points and they await the Pool A runners-up in the semifinals. Sri Lanka, who finished second with six points, will face Pool A toppers.
Pool B action resumes on Tuesday when already qualified Bangladesh will take on lowly Afghanistan, who have so far conceded 41 goals in two outings.
However, it will be the second match of the day that will be interesting to watch as Thailand and Hong Kong will be vying for the second semifinal spot from the group. Both the teams have so far earned three points each.
After a day’s break, the classification matches for fifth to eighth places will begin on Thursday when the two semifinals will also be played.
The final is scheduled to be played on Saturday.