SHARJAH, UAE, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — China was held 1-1 by Oman in a Group B clash in the final round of 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers here on Thursday.
“We should have won the game,” Chinese head coach Li tie told the post-match press conference.
Li’s team was dominant for most of the game, but Oman’s 75th-minute equalizer almost crushed Team China’s dream of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
“We played the game well with strong determination to win, this is a very disappointing result for our team,” Li added.
China was fifth in the six-team group with three points from four games ahead of the match, while Oman stood third with six points. For the Chinese players, it was a game they could not afford to lose or there would only be a theoretical possibility for them to make it to Qatar 2022.
Star striker Wu Lei opened the scoring for China 21 minutes into play when he slotted home a pass from Zhu Chenjie. Luo Guofu came close to doubling China’s lead five minutes later, but his header was denied by Oman keeper Faiyz Al-Rusheidi.
After the restart, Oman piled the pressure on Li Tie’s team while Wu Lei had an opportunity to score a brace in the 70th minute, but his close-range free header sailed narrowly off the post.
Only five minutes later, the Chinese team was punished when Amjad Al-Harthi rose high to head home a corner kick by Mohsin Johar, who was brought in just 10 minutes earlier.
China had a last-minute chance but Zhang Linpeng’s free kick was cleared in front of the box.
“I am proud of my players’ performance, they didn’t give up until the last minute. This is football, we scored from a corner kick and then conceded one goal in the corner kick. The final score is fair for both teams,” Li said.
Oman head coach Ivankovic said he was satisfied to get one point from the tough game. “My players didn’t lose faith and were very concentrated when we were 1-0 behind. We deserve the equalizer and the result is acceptable for us. The Chinese team played very well and they have good players, but this is football,” he noted.
With the draw, China stays in the fifth place with four points, nine behind Group B leader Saudi Arabia, who had a goalless draw with Australia earlier on Thursday.
In the other Group B match on Thursday, Japan beat bottom side Vietnam 1-0 to climb up to third with nine points. Oman now has seven points to rank fourth in the group.
China will next play its home game against Australia on November 16, which is also relocated to Sharjah due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Australian team is a strong opponent and we have to do our best to fight for a victory. After five games, we saw the gap between us and those best Asian teams, but it doesn’t mean that we have no chance at all We must go all out and leave no regrets on the pitch,” Li added.