Bahrain last night kept its hopes of playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics alive with 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan in Group ’B’ at the National Stadium in Riffa.
Goals from Jaycee John and Abdulla Omar took Bahrain’s tally to nine points, just one behind group favourites and leaders South Korea who were held to a goalless draw by Syria in another match in Aleppo.
Uzbekistan remain on one point while Syria have two.
With yesterday’s results, South Korea and Bahrain are the only teams in contention now for the lone Olympic spot from this group.
Bahrain will next take on Syria at home on November 17 while South Korea travel to Samarqand on the same day for their clash with Uzbekistan.
Bahrain went into last night’s do-or-die encounter seeking their third victory in four games.
Coached by Ivan Hucko of Slovenia, Bahrain were aiming to build on their stunning 2-1 victory in Samarqand last month.
In that match, a stoppage time goal by Hamad Faisal gave Bahrain their second away victory following another dramatic 2-1 win over Syria in the opening match.
Bahrain’s only setback was a 0-1 home defeat to the Koreans.
Bahrain last night missed the services of influential left back Faouzi Aaish through suspension.
However, the home side were boosted by the return of three key players - midfielder Abdulla Fatai, strikers Ismail Abdullatif and John.
Bahrain began on a cautious note and gradually started to attack. Their efforts paid off just before half-time when Fatai set up Abdullatif on the right.
Abdullatif, who plays for Kuwait Club Al Arabi, made a long run before crossing the ball to John who slotted home with the back of his right foot, beating goalkeeper Rajabov Anvar from six yards.
Backed by hundreds of supporters, Bahrain controlled most of the second-half but missed a spate of chances.
However, Bahrain persevered and finally found the net in the 55th minute, thanks to Omar who sent a blistering shot from the right flank after he was well set up by John.
Yesterday’s match started after a minute of silence was observed in memory of the former Bahrain Football Association president Shaikh Salman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa who died on Saturday.