Dubai: Christopher Anthony Zeballos scored a brace as Australia emerged a 2-0 winner over Qatar in AFC Futsal Championship’s Group C action on Saturday at the Al Shabab Club Stadium.
Zeballos’ acute goal-bound cross was helped out by Qatar’s Rashid Yousuf towards his own goal but the credit was given to the New South Wales Thunder star Zeballos who later blocked the vision of Qatari goalie Hamad Muftah and connected a slight touch to score his second in the 29th minute.
A thunderstorm from Yousuf reduced the deficit for Qatar with only two minutes remaining but Andres Gomez put the match in bed in the 39th minute.
Australia, who had lost both of their international friendlies in the tune-up for the AFC Futsal Championship final against Thailand a week before, were more relied on the individual brilliance of Zeballos while Qatar seemed missing star striker Rodrigo Xavier De Roccha who had scored massive 16 goals in the qualifier before missing out from the final due to nationality issues.
“There were flashes of individual brilliance in the first half but we played as a team in the second half and controlled much of the second period,” Australian coach Steven Knight said.
“It was a tough match but we tried to rob off Qatar on their possessions and even managed to do it,” he added.
Zeballos first goal in the 4th minute was a freak as the Qatari goalie Muftah was undecided whether to collect it or wait for it before Rashid further guided the ball towards its destination.
Qatar goalie Muftah did not have any clue for Australia’s second goal scored in the 29th minute as Zeballos wrong footed the 33-year old veteran. The match turned a nightmare for Muftah as his mistake in the last minute of the match gave Australia a deserved three points as Gomez pounced on the ball into the open net.
“We made three mistakes and paid for those, at this level of competition, your mistake will count,” Qatar’s Spanish coach Abdel Ilah Benaim said.
“Now it’s going to be very tough especially after losing the opening match but we will fight,” he added. The Spaniard also rued missing duo of De Roccha and Amro Mohssein Abdelaal as the later will be eligible to play only against Korea Republic on Sunday after serving two matches ban.