On the second matchday of Asia's fourth round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ the top seeds, Australia and Korea Republic, will take centre stage, with matches against Uzbekistan and Korea DPR respectively. At the same time, Qatar will be looking to secure their second consecutive win against Bahrain, while the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia cross swords in a Gulf derby.
Group A: Australia out for full points
Uzbekistan-Australia, Tashkent, 10 September, 21:30 (local time)
Australia travel into the unknown in Tashkent, facing a tough challenge in the shape of hosts Uzbekistan, who won all four home games in the previous two qualifying rounds, including a 3-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia. Despite the daunting task, however, Verbeek's Socceroos are aiming at nothing fewer than three points, having just received a timely boost with a heartening 2-1 friendly win over the Netherlands. Harry Kewell, who scored against the Netherlands in the warm-up, declared that they will get off to a winning start against the Central Asians. "Both sides will be targeting three points, but we're going out there to show the world we are capable of qualifying."
Qatar-Bahrain, Doha, 10 September, 22:00 (local time)
Although the familiar Gulf rivals come into their second game in contrasting mood, it goes without saying that both will be confident of snatching three points. Qatar opened up brightly by romping past Uzbekistan 3-0 at home, and a home win over Bahrain will firmly establish them at the top of the section. Bahrain, despite their 3-2 defeat by Japan, have an impressive record against Qatar in recent years, having won the latest two encounters by a 2-1 scoreline. "Bahrain didn't play well against Japan, but this doesn't mean they aren't a competitive team," said Qatar's coach, the experienced Uruguayan Jorge Fossati. "We have to respect all our rivals."
Group B: Neighbors battle in Korean derby
Korea DPR-Korea Republic, Shanghai, 10 September, 20:00 (local time)
Having played out two goalless draws in the previous round, the two peninsular neighbors lock horns again on Wednesday, in their third meeting in six months. Korea DPR, who came away with an opening 2-1 win over hosts UAE on Saturday, enter the rematch in the neutral venue of Shanghai hungry for a second win. The North Koreans' performance against the Emirates certainly impressed Korea Republic coach Huh Jung-Moo. "Their attacking trio of Jong Tae-Se, Hong Yong-Jo, and Mun In-Guk are impressive, and the team are very pacy generally," observed Huh. "We will have to be well prepared for this."
United Arab Emirates-Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, 10 September, 22:15 (local time)
After their failure to open up with three points on Saturday, the two Gulf sides will go all out against each other for their first wins on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia have long been dominant against UAE, but coach Bruno Metsu's side ran out 1-0 winners against the Sons of the Desert in their last meeting, Ismail Matar scoring in added time in last year's Gulf Cup semi-final. The memory of this is some consolation to Metsu who is keen to get his team back in track after their 2-1 opening defeat to Korea DPR. "We are not out of the race, and we can win the next match against Saudi Arabia," vowed the Frenchman.
Play and win!
Still want more? Keen to test your football knowledge and expertise? Sign up for the FIFA.com Club today and play the McDonald's FIFA World Cup Fantasy football manager game, and the McDonald's FIFA World Cup Predictor game. There are great prizes, including trips to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. Good luck, and enjoy the games.