Asia/Oceania leagues review
FIFA.com’s regular look at domestic leagues in Asia and Oceania this week travels to Australia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Oman. It was business as usual for Brisbane Roar and Zob Ahan who both extended their lead at the top in Australia and Iran respectively. FIFA Club World Cup participants Al Wahda suffered a disappointing return to action in the UAE, while there was yet more pain for former Asian champions Al Ain, as there was in Iran for Tehran heavyweights Persepolis.
Australia A-League: Roar continue to bellow
Brisbane streaked further clear at the top with their 2-0 win at North Queensland Fury on Saturday enough to move ten points clear and claim an Australian record of 17 national league matches unbeaten. Young New Zealand striker Kosta Barbarouses maintaining his red-hot form by scoring both goals, as the Roar took full advantage of Adelaide United’s surprise home defeat against Melbourne Heart the previous night. The elements conspired to prevent third-placed Gold Coast United and fourth-placed Central Coast Mariners gaining on Adelaide with their fixture abandoned midway through the first half due to a waterlogged pitch.
Big game: Wellington Phoenix may have kick-started an erratic campaign with a 4-0 win over the high-flying Newcastle Jets moving the New Zealanders into play-off contention. The result all the more impressive as it ended the Jets’ seven-match unbeaten run.
Headline-grabber: John Aloisi scored an injury-time winner to help a struggling Melbourne Heart record a surprise 2-1 victory at Adelaide United. The scorer of the decisive spot-kick which sent Australia to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ enjoying a happy return to his hometown as the Heart collected three much-needed points.
Iran Pro League: Persepolis continue freefall
Zob Ahan cemented their place at the top of the standings after overcoming Mes 1-0 at home courtesy of Jalal Rafkhaei’s last-minute strike. The hard-fought win ensured the 2010 AFC Champions League runners-up took full advantage of Esteghlal's stunning 4-1 loss at Foolad by securing a five-point lead at the summit. Defending champions Sepahan moved up to third with a goalless draw away at Malavan.
Big game: 2004 champions Foolad may have only recorded their sixth win out of nineteen outings but they did so in surprising fashion by upsetting two-time winners Esteghlal. The hitherto high-flying Esteghlal were rocked by a three-goal blitz in the first half before Gholam Abbas Ashoobi grabbed a consolation in the second half.
Headline-grabber: Esteghlal were by no means the only big name to take a hit with fellow capital side Persepolis losing at home to Saba Battery by an identical scoreline. The defeat was Persepolis' eighth of a below par campaign and they now languish in seventh, trailing twelve points behind Zob Ahan.
United Arab Emirates Premier League: Al Wahda stunned upon return
Having featured in the recent FIFA Club World, Al Wahda’s return to domestic action ended in disappointing fashion with a 2-1 defeat against surprise packets Bani Yas. A second defeat of the season left the defending champions fourth, while Bani Yas, enjoying just their second season in the top flight, climbed to second two points off the pace.
Big game: Al Jazira continued their stunning run this season, pulling off a resounding 4-0 home victory over Al Ain to maintain their place at the helm. Al Ain, nine-time UAE champions and the inaugural AFC Champions League winners, went into the meeting desperate to register their first win in three months. However it was their in-form opponents that had all the aces in attack, with Brazilian striker Bare netting a hat-trick as they picked up an eighth win from ten matches.
Headline-grabber: Bani Yas had Andre Senghor to thank with the prolific Senegalese forward scoring his 12th goal of the season to help his side undo Al Wahda. Senghor remains at the top of the scoring chart two clear of Al Jazira hitman Ibrahima Diaky, who missed a spot-kick against Al Ain.
Waitakere United maintained their perfect start to the New Zealand Football Championship with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Canterbury United for a seventh win in as many outings. Though still eight-points off the pace Team Wellington maintained second thanks to a 5-0 romp over Otago United with Hicham Kamri bagging a double. Auckland City have finally hit form with the perennial title challengers winning by the same scoreline against Hawke’s Bay United to sit in third.
In the OFA Oman League, defending champions Al Suwaiq remain at the summit despite dropping points with a 2-2 draw against Al Orouba. Al Suwaiq are just a point clear of Oman Club, who missed a gilt-edged chance to take top spot after being held to a 1-1 draw by Dhofar.