DOHA: World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar improbably kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Russia with a thrilling victory over South Korea on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
On a politically charged night in Doha, a Hasan Al-Haydos goal, his second of the match, secured a 3-2 win after Qatar had squandered a two-goal lead and looked to be heading out of the competition.
It means Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts who have endured a dreadful final round in the AFC qualifying competition, still have a remote chance of playing in Russia.
They now stand five points behind third-place Uzbekistan and will need to win both their final games in Group A—and hope Uzbekistan lose both—to stand a chance of qualifying.
The team that finishes third will head into play-offs for a place in Russia.
Qatar coach Jorge Fossati said after the match that his team needed “miracles” to play next year at next year’s World Cup.
“We are very upset because we are convinced Qatar has the quality, unfortunately we don’t have enough points,” he said.
Despite the defeat, qualification for Russia is still in South Korea’s own hands.
They remain a point ahead of Uzbekistan in the race for the automatic second qualifying spot in the group.
Tuesday’s result could also set up a thrilling finale in the group as Uli Stielike’s team play Uzbekistan in the last match.
“I take full responsibility for this result,” said Stielike, who admitted his job could be on the line after a stuttering campaign. “I am the one who makes the tactical decisions.”