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Guam: Guam remained unbeaten at home in the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifiers after a resolute defensive display saw the Matao hold Oman to a goalless draw on Tuesday.

Having recorded back-to-back home wins over Turkmenistan and India, Guam were hammered 6-0 on the road by three-time Asian champions Iran last week but Gary White’s side recovered well from the defeat in Tehran to deny Oman a hat-trick of Group D wins.

An evenly-contested first half ended goalless with the visitors shading it in terms of possession and scoring chances, Saad Al Mukhaini putting too much power into his cross from the right with Imad Al Hosni well positioned to head home a better delivery, before Al Hosni had the ball in the net in the 42nd minute only for the Fanja forward to be denied the opener for offside.

Oman’s next chance came as fourth official Takuto Okabe indicated that there would be a minimum of one minute additional time when Guam forward John Matkin was intercepted in midfield allowing the ball to be worked to the right and enterprising winger Al Mukhaini, whose angled drive towards goal was well gathered by an alert Dallas Jaye in the Guam goal.

The final chance of the first half came the way of Oman’s main threat Al Hosni, but the former Charleroi forward, who had scored in each of the Gulf Sultanate’s previous Group D matches, fired wide with virtually the last kick of the opening period.

Oman started the second half with purpose as Paul Le Guen’s side kept play concentrated in the final third, but despite the onslaught they struggled to find a way past a resilient Guam defence with Thailand-based Brandon McDonald - who was well-positioned to block Eid Al Farsi’s 54th minute shot - responsible for a number of timely interventions.

The pattern of Oman dominance continued with Guam struggling to get out of their own half.

But the home side were dealing confidently with the visitors’ attack, with Ahmed Mubarak’s 74th minute free-kick, which was comfortably gathered by Jaye, Oman’s only real effort on target as Guam held on for a deserved point.

The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup.

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