The penultimate group games of the Asian third round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ on Saturday will allow some of the powerhouses of the region to join Uzbekistan, who last week secured a place in the next round.
In Group 3, joint leaders Korea Republic and Korea DPR can reach the final round simply by avoiding defeat, while Saudi Arabia will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the Uzbeks by picking up at least one point against Singapore in Group 4. Meanwhile, Group 5 is still wide open, with Iran aiming to advance to the next round with an away win in Syria.
Group 3: Koreans eyeing joint qualification
*Korea DPR - Jordan, Pyongyang, 14 June, 17:00 (local time)
* The North Koreans will be hoping to seal their place in the last ten at home, before next week's trip to neighbours Korea Republic. Livewire forward Jong Tae-Se returns from suspension, while playmaker Hong Yong-Jo will be trying to emulate his performance in the group opener, where he scored the only goal of the game from an audacious free-kick against the Jordanians.
For their part, Jordan are out to pull off another surprise on the Korean peninsula, after they fought out a 2-2 draw with Korea Republic last month. This time, however, Nelo Vingada's men will have to win in Pyongyang to keep their qualifying hopes alive.
Turkmenistan - Korea Republic, Ashgabat, 14 June, 19:00 (local time)
Korea Republic coach Huh Jung-Moo has ruled out Park Ji-Sung due to a niggling knee injury and attacking midfielder Kim Do-Heon is likely to start in Park's place. Korea Republic were certainly in better shape when they beat Turkmenistan 4-0 at home earlier this year, but the Taeguk Warriors must start as favourites against the Central Asians.
The hosts, however, will be hoping to show something to please their supporters in their last home game, as they remain the only side without a goal in the third qualifying round.
Group 4: Saudis on the up
*Uzbekistan - Lebanon, Tashkent, 14 June, 19:00 (local time)
* Little will be at stake in this match between the already qualified Uzbeks and the already eliminated Lebanese. The hosts will be looking to extend their perfect record, while the visitors will be fighting for pride, and for their first point in the qualifying campaign.
Singapore - Saudi Arabia, Singapore, 14 June, 19:30 (local time)
Despite the two consecutive defeats against the Uzbeks, Singapore are still in contention for a place in the final round, if they manage to beat Saudi Arabia in this crucial home game. But the Lions have never achieved the feat in their six previous encounters with the Saudis, which include a 2-0 reverse in the group opener in February.
For their part, the Saudis have gained momentum by defeating Lebanon twice this month. Despite the sacking of their Brazilian coach Helio dos Anjos on Sunday, the Saudis are poised to advance under the guidance of Nasser Al Johar, who led his country to the finals of Korea/Japan 2002.
Group 5: Iran's chance to progress
*Syria - Iran, Damascus, 14 June, 20:00 (local time)
* Finally on top of the group after a patchy start, Iran are now in a good position to book their passage to the next round with a game to spare. A win would see Ali Daei's charges join the last ten, although they cannot afford to underestimate the Syrians, who held Team Melli to a goalless draw in Tehran earlier this year.
The hosts, meanwhile, still have all to play for as they can even overtake the Iranians with a win. But as coach Mohammed Kwid admitted after the 4-2 defeat by Kuwait last week, Syria are experiencing serious problems at the back and will need to learn from their defensive mistakes.
Kuwait - United Arab Emirates, Kuwait City, 14 June, 20:45 (local time)
Kuwait got their campaign back on track thanks to Ahmad Al Azemi's hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Syria, which provided a flying start for their interim coach Mohammed Ibrahim. Next up is the UAE, who beat the Kuwaitis 2-0 in February.
The UAE's goal drought has been a major concern for coach Bruno Metsu; his players have failed to score for 216 minutes since Ismail Matar found the net against Syria on Matchday 2. Although the Frenchman has reminded his critics that his side still has six points to play for, they will have to end their disappointing run in front of goal in order to advance.