Lebanon Advances to Final Round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers despite UAE Loss
The Lebanese national football advanced to the final round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday despite a 2-4 loss to the UAE.
Lebanon needed a tie or a victory against the UAE to guarantee qualification to the next round for the first time in its history.
South Korea also made it through to the final round of qualifiers after defeating Kuwait 2-0.
The UAE opened the score sheet after a free kick by Bashir Saeed in the 21st minute.
Lebanon soon equalized after striker Mahmoud al-Ali scored in the 22nd minute.
The visitors’ joy was short-lived however when Ali was forced to quit the game due to injury in the 30th minute.
He was substituted by Akram Moghrabi.
The UAE took advantage of Ali’s loss by scoring in the 38th minute through Ali al-Weheibi.
Lebanon rallied however and managed to level the score right before half time through Hassan Maatouq.
In the second half however, the UAE exposed flaws in the Lebanese defense in set pieces, scoring through a free kick, taken by Ismail Matar, in the 68th minute.
Lebanon captain Rida Antar's absence due to suspension took its toll on the team and the UAE solidified its lead in the 79th minute through another goal from Saeed.
Lebanon joins South Korea, Japan, Australia, Uzbekistan, Oman, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, and Jordan in the final round.
Lebanon’s line-up included Abbas Hassan, Walid Ismail, Bilal Najarin, Youssef Mohammed, Ramez Dioub, Abbas Atweh, Haitham Faour, Mohammed Shamas, Ahmed Zureik, Mahmoud al-Ali, and Hassan Maatouq.
In addition to the massive Lebanese crowd, the game was watched at the stadium by Minister of Youth and Sports Faisal Karami and MPs Sami Gemayel, Ali Bazzi, Simon Abi Ramia, and Nadim Gemayel.
News of Lebanon's qualification was met with scenes of jubilation in the country with people taking to the streets despite the poor weather conditions to celebrate the achievement.
The final round of qualifications are expected to take place later this year.