Win over Tajikistan puts UAE Under 23s closer to next round of Olympic qualifying

UAE and Yemen level on points after latter's 5-0 defeat of Sri Lanka in early match on Sunday

The UAE Under 23 football team celebrate scoring a goal during their 2016 Asian Under 23 Championship qualifier against Tajikistan at the Kalba stadium in Fujairah on March 29, 2015. Courtesy UAE FA
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The UAE Olympic football team are a point away from making sure of their place in the 2016 Asian Under 23 Championships after their second win in Group D of the qualifiers on Sunday night.

Starting their campaign with a 4-0 win over Sri Lanka, the UAE beat Tajikistan 3-0 at the Kalba stadium in Fujairah last night to stay on top of the group. They are level on six points with Yemen, who have also won both their matches.

The home side have a better goal difference, which means that they only need a point from their final group match against Yemen on Tuesday to book their place in the Under 23 continental championships, which will take place from January 12-30 in Qatar.

In Sunday’s early match, Yemen beat Sri Lanka 5-0. The winners of the 10 qualifying groups and the five best second-placed teams will qualify for the tournament.

Keen to qualify as group winners, the UAE got off to a perfect start last night with a goal inside 15 minutes and their opponents down to 10 men.

Tajikistan goalkeeper Muminjon Gadoyboev was given his marching orders in the 12th minute when a charging Yousuf Saeed, set in the clear by Khalfan Mubarak, tripped over the keeper’s outstretched legs at the edge of the area.

The referee pointed to the spot and the Sharjah striker converted to make it 1-0 for the home team.

Eight minutes later, Al Ain’s Ahmed Barman doubled the UAE’s tally when he flicked the ball into the net from close range following a goalmouth melee that saw substitute Tajik goalkeeper Emomali Soniev attempting to fend off three white shirts.

Ahmed Rabea made it 3-0 in the 61st minute with a curling free kick from near the end line that dipped over Soniev and went in off the far post.

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