Contrasting fortunes for continental elite

The penultimate Matchday of Asia's final qualifying round for the Men's Olympic Football Tournament saw Korea Republic become the first and only side to book passage to London 2012. Their comfortable 3-0 win over hosts Oman sealed their seventh consecutive appearance at the global showpiece.

Japan and United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, moved within touching distance of qualification in the other two groups, however it proved to be a miserable evening for pre-tournament favourites Australia and Saudi Arabia, who both crashed out with a game remaining. Join as we detail the action across the continent.

The game
Oman 0-3 Korea Republic
Anticipated by many to be matchday highlight, Group A's top-of-the-table clash turned out to be one-way traffic in the Koreans' favour, with Hong Myung-Bo's visitors recording an emphatic win in Muscat. Needing a win to claim the section's top position, the east Asians made a dream start when midfielder Nam Tae-Hee latched onto a Kim Min-Woo pass to open the scoring inside the opening minute. The provider then turned scorer when he sealed the triumph midway through the second half, shortly after Kim Hyun-Sung’s goal had doubled the lead.

With the Koreans celebrating victory and qualification, the hosts are now left to battle for the section's runner-up place against Qatar, who came from behind to earn a spirited 2-1 home win over Saudi Arabia. Leading the Qataris by a point, a win against the Saudis in the concluding match on 14 March will be enough to see Oman through to the three-team play-offs, alongside the other runners-up, with the winner to face Senegal in April's AFC-CAF play-off.

The surprise
United Arab Emirates 1-0 Australia
UAE sent shockwaves across Group B, edging Australia 1-0 at home to move to the section's top. The crucial goal was scored by playmaker Omar Abdulrahman midway through the opening half and the hosts now need just a point against Uzbekistan in the final outing to book their maiden Olympic qualification. The Olyroos, however, paid for their goal-drought as the Barcelona 1992 semi-finalists played out a disappointing campaign featuring three goalless draws and two defeats.

In the section's other game, Mohammed Saad Abdullah cancelled out Fozil Musaev's opener with a penalty before Mustafa Abdulameer scored the match winner with a long-range effort as Iraq stunned Uzbekistan 2-1. The victory, however, did little to help the Athens 2004 semi-finalists' who had been eliminated since the last matchday after a 3-0 scoreline was awarded to UAE due to an ineligible player. Despite suffering defeat, the Uzbeks can secure automatic qualification when they host the Emirates in a winner-takes-all contest next month.

The other attractions
Japan Coach Takashi Sekizuka was a pleased man as his promise of a big win was fulfilled with a 4-0 demolition of hosts Malaysia; a result which returned his side to the summit in Group C. Kashiwa Reysol defender Hiroki Sakai put the visitors ahead on 35 minutes before Yuya Osako doubled the advantage shortly after the interval. After Genki Haraguchi made it 3-0, Manabu Saito wrapped up a comfortable win on the hour-mark.

Meanwhile, Syria fell 2-1 in Bahrain to lose their grip on top spot. Trailing the Japanese by three points, the west Asians' hopes now rest on winning by a significant margin over Malaysia, combined with Bahrain defeating the east Asians.

The player
Having broken the deadlock in their previous 2-1 win against Malaysia, forward Mohamed Tayeb Alalawi shone again, striking in each half against Syria as Bahrain outmuscled their opponents by an identical scoreline.

The stat
- Group B has proved to be the hardest of all with two former Olympic semi-finalists - Iraq and Australia - condemned to an early exit.

What they said
"I am really proud of the entire team and knew that our boys were mentally strong and hoped for such a result," Korea Republic coach Hong Myung-Bo

Matchday 5 results
Wednesday 22 February
Group A: Qatar 2-1 Saudi Arabia, Oman 0-3 Korea Republic
Group B: Iraq 2-1 Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates 1-0 Australia
Group C: Bahrain 2-1 Syria, Malaysia 0-4 Japan