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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 03/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman's hopes of advancing to Round 2 of the World Hockey League (WHL) ended on Saturday night when it lost its must-win Round 1 match to Azerbaijan 1-3 at the Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha.It was the second defeat in three matches for coach Sabil al Balushi's boys. Oman had lost to hosts Qatar last week and its only win came against Sri Lanka. The sultanate side plays its concluding match against Turkey late on Sunday. Oman is on three points from three outings.Only the top team from the Qatar leg will qualify for Round 2, which is the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) new tournament. The Qatar leg, featuring five nations, is being played on the round-robin format. Azerbaijan's win against Oman helped maintain its perfect record in the event. It currently leads the table with nine points from three matches and enjoys a better goal-difference over Qatar.Saleh Balamiyev gave Azerbaijan the lead in the 25th minute and Oman equalised five minutes later through a penalty-corner strike from Mohammed al Shar. In the second half, Azerbaijan scored through quick goals to seal victory. Tariq Aziz and Saleem Khalid scored in the 56th and 60th minutes, respectively.Qatar finished its league engagements with nine points from four matches, having secured a 2-1 win against the Sri Lankans it its last match.The hosts will now have to wait for the outcome of the concluding match between fellow contender Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka. The home team will hope for a huge win for Sri Lanka in order to pip Azerbaijan and qualify. Sri Lanka has three points from three games.The opening round of the WHL features nine legs. From seven Round 1 legs that have already concluded, 11 nations have qualified - Poland, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Ireland, Austria, Egypt, Scotland, Portugal, Trinidad & Tobago, Chile and the US. Fiji will host the ninth leg. Thirteen teams from Round 1 - two more are left to be decided, from the Qatar and Fiji legs - will make up the Round 2 line-up.


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