• World Cup hosts Qatar employed a deep defensive line and offered little in attack at the Viola Park in Vienna
First-half goals from Cyle Larin and Jonathan David helped World Cup-bound Canada to a comfortable 2-0 win over tournament hosts Qatar in a friendly in Vienna yesterday.
Larin opened the scoring in the fourth minute when he headed home from Sam Adekugbe’s looping cross before David added another nine minutes later, pouncing on a loose ball after goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb had failed to deal with a cross.
Qatar employed a deep defensive line and offered little in attack, with Abdulaziz Hatem’s powerful shot from distance, which was tipped over by Milan Borjan, their best effort of the opening half.
Canada manager John Herdman made wholesale changes after the break, including taking off Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, in search of a third but they were thwarted by Qatar who could have claimed a late consolation through Karim Boudiaf. Canada, who last appeared at the World Cup in 1986, play Uruguay in a friendly on Tuesday.
Qatar next face Chile also on Tuesday, before coach Felix Sanchez and his men briefly return to home in early October when they will hold an open training session before returning to Spain for more isolation before the World Cup starts.
The Asian champions have been camped in Europe – first in Spain and now in Austria – for the last four months as they prepare for a historic World Cup appearance at home in two months’ time. But based on yesterday’s show against Canada in Vienna, Qatar will have to show massive improvement if they are to make an impression in front of their fans at the World Cup.
Lack of intense match practice was apparent on Qatar players’ performance as they have sat out of Qatar Stars league matches back home. Having spent tens of billions of dollars preparing for the first World Cup in an Arab nation, Qatar is desperate to see the national side get past the first round where they are grouped with Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador.
Before the match against Canada, the Maroons have played few behind-the-door friendly matches against clubs and second string national teams as their preparations have been kept a well-guarded secret.
But they lost 3-0 to a Croatia under-23 team behind closed doors on Tuesday. And while public games in Vienna against Canada and Chile are only friendlies, they would still be seen as a key test of how much steel Sanchez has put into the side.
Iran sink Uruguay to give Queiroz winning start
Carlos Queiroz made a winning start to his second stint in charge of Iran as Mehdi Taremi’s second-half goal earned his side a 1-0 win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Uruguay in Vienna yesterday. Taremi came off the bench to score the 78th-minute winner after Queiroz’s side had ridden their luck to keep a dominant Uruguay at bay until the Porto striker’s late goal.
It was the perfect start to Queiroz’s second spell in charge of Iran after the Portuguese replaced Dragan Skocic this month and with the World Cup looming. Iran are due to meet England, Wales and the United States during the finals in Qatar while Uruguay have been drawn to face Portugal, Ghana and South Korea.
The defeat was undeserved for a Uruguay side who lost Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo to injury after he hobbled off with barely a minute on the clock clutching his groin. The South Americans, however, controlled the game, with Darwin Nunez prompting Alireza Beiranvand to take action after 15 minutes when the striker let fly from distance, forcing the Iranian goalkeeper to tip the ball over the bar.
Luis Suarez sought to lob Beiranvand in the 38th minute but his attempt sailed over while a later effort from the former Barcelona forward curled wide. Beiranvand was again called into action five minutes after the restart when he pushed Federico Valverde’s snap-shot from 20 yards to safety while Mehdi Torabi squandered a rare chance for Iran at the other end.
Taremi was introduced for Alireza Jahanbakhsh and, nine minutes later, the Porto striker hit what turned out to be the winner. The forward started and finished the move, feeding Saman Ghoddos on the left and his pass through to Karim Ansarifard was played back into the path of Taremi who side-footed home.
Cameroon beaten by Uzbekistan in WC warm-up
World Cup-bound Cameroon were beaten 2-0 by Uzbekistan yesterday in the first of two warm-up internationals in South Korea this month. Russia-based duo Hojimat Erkinov and Oston Urunov scored either side of halftime to give Uzbekistan the win over the ‘Indomitable Lions’, who begin their World Cup campaign against Switzerland in November.
Cameroon, who are also grouped with Brazil and Serbia at the finals in Qatar, will take on South Korea in another friendly in Seoul on Tuesday. Cameroon gave Bryan Mbuemo his debut on Friday after the Brentford forward switched allegiance from France.
Mbuemo represented France at junior level.
The match also saw the return of defender Nicolas Nkoulou, who last played for Cameroon more than five years ago when they won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon.
The 32-year-old centre back, previously at Olympique de Marseille, Torino and Watford and who is now playing club football in Greece, has been persuaded to come out of international retirement for the World Cup finals.
Canada’s forward David Hoilett (left) and Qatar’s defender Homam Ahmed vie for the ball during the friendly in Vienna. (AFP)