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Qatar, Saudi Arabia play out goalless draw in AFC U23 Championship

Bangkok, Thailand:  Qatar drew with Saudi Arabia 0-0 in Group B of the AFC U23 Championship on Sunday to leave both sides firmly in contention to reach the competition’s quarterfinals.

With one game each still to play, the result sees Qatar – in the wake of their draw with Syria – increase their tally to two points while Saudi Arabia are on four points following their impressive defeat of Japan on Matchday One.

Qatar complete their group stage fixtures on Wednesday when they face Japan while Saudi Arabia will tackle Syria.

On a warm and humid evening in the Thai capital, the game was off to a cautious start at the Thammasat Stadium, but there were tackles aplenty as both sides refused to give an inch, an approach that resulted in a tight and tense affair that was dominated by pockets of action in midfield.

The game finally burst into life on 39 minutes when Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s ferocious drive from 18 yards was superbly blocked by Qatar defender Mohamed Ayash.

By way of contrast to what had gone before, the second half began brightly with first Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Dubaysh unleashing a shot that fizzed narrowly wide of the target and then Al Hamdan having a close-range header repelled by goalkeeper Mohammed Al Yami.

In the 67th minute, Abdullah Al Ahrak flashed a shot across the face of the Saudi goal.

With defences dominating, neither side was able to fashion a further opportunity.

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