- Asia's third matchday in Qatar 2022 qualifying takes place on Thursday
- Four of the five Russia 2018 representatives were victors last month
- Qatar, Saudi Arabia seeking to bounce back
Asia's five representatives at Russia 2018 take to the field for a second time as matchday 3 of the continent's second qualifying round for Qatar 2022 gets underway on Thursday.
Japan, Australia, IR Iran and Korea Republic will aim to maintain their winning form, but Saudi Arabia must put a disappointing 2-2 draw against Yemen behind them when they entertain Singapore.
Join FIFA.com as we take a closer look at the match-ups across the world’s most populous continent.
Matchday 3 fixtures
Group A: Syria-Maldives, China PR-Guam
Group B: Australia-Nepal, Jordan-Kuwait
Group C: IR Iran-Cambodia, Iraq-Hong Kong
Group D: Saudi Arabia-Singapore, Uzbekistan-Yemen
Group E: Oman-Afghanistan, Bangladesh-Qatar
Group F: Japan-Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic-Myanmar
Group G: United Arab Emirates-Indonesia, Vietnam-Malaysia
Group H: Lebanon-Turkmenistan, Korea Republic-Sri Lanka
On paper, it looks like it will be a one-sided contest considering that Group E leaders Qatar are ranked 125 places above Bangladesh on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. And their head-to-head record adds further weight to Qatar’s favourtism with the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ hosts boasting two wins and a draw in their past three meetings, all in AFC Asian Cup qualifying. Yet Felix Sanchez's charges received a wake-up call in their last outing when they could only manage a goalless draw against India at home, with their campaign doubling as Asian Cup qualifying.
Despite losing to Afghanistan by a solitary-goal in the opener, Jamie Day's Bangladesh are keen to prove themselves in front of their home supporters. Of course, few question Qatar's status as the undisputed favourites after their spectacular form that secured a maiden Asian Cup in January.
The section's other match pits Oman against Afghanistan, both currently locked in second on three points and aiming to move clear with victory.
The other attractions
In Group A, Marcello Lippi's China PR welcome Guam seeking a second win but they will be wary of Karl Dodd's visitors, who pulled off stunning victories against the likes of India and Turkmenistan on the road to Russia 2018. In the group's other match, Syria entertain Maldives in Dubai hoping to continue their winning form.
Group B's Australia welcome Nepal confident of building on their proud home record - the Socceroos' only home defeat since 1981 was a 1-0 reversal against China in 2008 when their qualifying mission had already been completed. Jordan, meanwhile, entertain Kuwait hoping that they can manage a better result than the 1-1 draw in the two sides' WAFF Championship meeting a couple of months ago.
In Group C, a second win is firmly in IR Iran's grasp when they host Cambodia, despite missing star attacker Alireza Jahanbakhsh. Coach Marc Wilmots does not lack for firepower with ace-strikers Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi at his disposal. Iraq welcome Hong Kong in the group's other match with the hosts determined to bounce back with a victory having drawn 1-1 against Bahrain in the opener.
In Group D, both Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan enter the matchday hoping to put their campaign back on track with victories against Singapore and Yemen respectively. The West Asians can take heart from their undefeated record while the Central Asians, under returning boss Vadim Abramov, will be confident of prolonging their superior record having won all four past World Cup qualifying meetings against the Yemenis.
In Group F, coach Hajime Moriyasu has named a full-strength Japan squad largely consisting of their European-based stars as they aim to secure a second successive win against Mongolia at home. The other match sees hosts Kyrgyz Republic and Myanmar seeking to grab their first points.
Group G bottom side Indonesia travels to United Arab Emirates desperately seeking to stay in touch with the rest of the group after suffering back-to-back losses at home. However, Bert van Marwijk's side boast strong home form, including three wins and a draw in local conditions during their Russia 2018 campaign. A pair of old foes re-unite in the other match with hosts Vietnam and Malaysia hoping to get back on track with victory.
Elsewhere, Group H favourites Korea Republic host Sri Lanka with their sights fixed firmly on three points while pointless Lebanon entertain Turkmenistan keen to rekindle their hopes with a win at home.
Did you know?
Iraq fans will end their long wait for a game on home soil when they will finally host a World Cup qualifier as they welcome Hong Kong to the Basra International Stadium. The last competitive international fixture staged in Iraq was in 2011 when they defeated Yemen 2-0 on the road to Brazil 2014.