Can west Asia bounce back?

South Korea's Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung (C) heads the ball as team mate Kim Jung Wod (8) and Iran's Karim Baqeri (6) look on

Asia's Group 2 is intriguingly poised at the halfway mark in the final stage qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, with the current standings representing a divide between east and west.

Regular FIFA World Cup finalists Korea Republic sit at the top of the standings, but the real surprise has been neighbours Korea DPR who moved to second with a home win over Saudi Arabia earlier this month. The result, combined with Iran's home draw with South Korea, has pushed Iran to third and Saudi Arabia to fourth, while the United Arab Emirates remain some way off the pace in fifth.

Only the top two teams are guaranteed a berth in South Africa, while the third-place team must face the lottery of a play-off with a Group 1 team, and then a further play-off against Oceania winners New Zealand.

With the final matchday fast approaching, the question is: which two teams will advance from the section?

Group 2 standings
Korea Republic - 8 points, +5 GD
Korea DPR - 7 points, +1 GD
Iran - 6 points, +1 GD
Saudi Arabia - 4 points, -2 GD
United Arab Emirates - 1 point, -5 GD

Korea DPR have been the dark horses so far losing just once in their bid for a first FIFA World Cup finals appearance since 1966. The form of the Chollima sees Asian heavyweights Iran and Saudi Arabia slightly off the pace.

Iran hosting Saudi Arabia on 28 March will likely prove a critical encounter, as will the Iranian's visit to North Korea in early June.

However it is likely to come down to the very final day of action on 17 June, when two mouth-watering contests has Korea Republic at home to Iran, and Saudi Arabia hosting Korea DPR.

So, it's over to you: which two teams will qualify automatically for South Africa 2010, and which team from Group 2 will be forced into a play-off? Click 'Add your comment' to enter the debate, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful, about the topic and in English.