Tashkent: Australia reached the AFC Futsal Championship
quarter-finals for a sixth consecutive time on Saturday after
seeing off Qatar 5-2 at the Uzbekistan Stadium in a match
where both Gregory Giovenali and Tobias Seeto scored braces.
After Daniel Fogarty had handed Australia a second-minute
lead, Hadi Al Braidi responded almost immediately for Qatar
before goals from Giovenali and Seeto put the Futsalroos in
a commanding position heading into the break.
The sides traded goals early in the second half through Giovenali’s
second and a Lucas strike before Seeto also completed his brace
to round out the Australian win.
Australia will now go head-to-head with Japan, winners in the day’s
earlier game against Malaysia, on Monday for top spot in Group D.
In a frenetic opening stanza Flavio gave away possession leading to
an Australian corner that was delivered by Seeto and swept home
by Fogarty to put the Futsalroos 1-0 up inside two minutes.
Barely thirty seconds later Al Braidi responded for Qatar only for
Australia to immediately go down the other end and restore their
lead through a shot from the right by captain Giovenali.
Seeto, one of only two Australian players based abroad, then went
on a fine solo run against a backtracking Qatari defence that allowed
him the time and space to slot home a third with a quarter of an
hour still remaining in the half.
Thereafter the match settled into a familiar pattern with Qatar
looking to hit on the counter and Australia playing a strong, pressing
game forcing frequent turnovers that allowed them to have the
best of the goalscoring chances.
Fogarty, Jarrod Basger, and Daine Merrin all came close to extending
the lead and Lucas saw a shot flash across the face of goal for Qatar
but ultimately Australia maintained their 3-1 lead as the sides went
to the break.
Australia added a fourth six minutes after the restart when Giovenali’s
cross was assisted into the goal after a mistake from Qatari goalkeeper
Ninety seconds later and Qatar had again reduced the deficit after
a powerful shot from Lucas flew into the left hand side of the Australia
goal to make it 4-2 with 13 minutes remaining.
With the clock winding down Qatar turned to the powerplay but it
was Australia who extended their lead in the 37th minute as the
impressive Seeto drove home a powerful shot from the left to
round out the 5-2 victory.