Korea Republic and Korea DPR renew acquaintances for the 13th time, while Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan battle out for the top spot in their group. Iran are up against Kuwait and are chasing Gulf rivals United Arab Emirates, who also play away to underdogs Syria.
Group 3: Koreans look to extend leads
Korea DPR-Korea Republic, Shanghai, 26 March, 19:00 (local time)
It will be the third time that the Koreas cross swords with each other in a FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, and it was the South Koreans who emerged victorious on both occasions: 1-0 in 1989 and 3-0 in 1993. Korea Republic are also unbeaten on Chinese soil, with a 1-0 win (1990) and a 1-1 draw (1992) in Beijing, as well as February's 1-1 stalemate in Chongqing.
This time the joint leaders face off each other in Shanghai, where they fought out a 1-1 draw at the East Asian Championship last month. Korea Republic coach Huh Jung-Moo will be banking on Premiership trio of Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo, and Seol Ki-Hyun, although he recently expressed concerns about their match fitness. His counterpart Kim Jong-Hun also has a couple of foreign-based players at his disposal, with Jong Tae-Se of Kawasaki Frontale and FK Bezanija's Hong Yong-Jo always a threat.
Turkmenistan-Jordan, Ashgabat, 26 March, 17:00 (local time)
Despite their opening day defeats, both sides have all to play for in this encounter. Hosts Turkmenistan will be hoping to make home advantage count, and to perform as well as they did against Korea Republic for the first 45 minutes. Meanwhile, the Jordanians are expected to employ a cautious approach after losing 4-1 to Uzbekistan on Saturday in the build-up to this game.
Group 4: Saudis keen to maintain unbeaten run
Uzbekistan-Saudi Arabia, Tashkent, 26 March, 16:00 (local time)
The Uzbeks are on a high from a morale-boosting victory over Jordan on Saturday, and relishing their chance to leapfrog the Saudis into pole position. However, the Gulf nation have a different idea as they are on a 19-game unbeaten run in FIFA World Cup qualifiers since August 2001. With the record in mind, the Green Falcons will be aiming to grab all three points on the road, which could be fairly routine provided Yasser Al Qahtani and Malek Al Hawsawi continue their run of good form.
Singapore-Lebanon, Singapore, 26 March, 19:30 (local time)
Again, the minnows will have their say: Singapore warmed up for this game with a goalless draw against Australia's experimental side on Saturday, while Lebanon are in a make-or-break situation following their home defeat to Uzbekistan. The sides have met twice before in the first qualifying round for France 98, the Lebanese drew 1-1 with the Lions in Beirut, before winning 2-1 away from home - but neither of them could make it to the next round.
Group 5: Iran desperate to bounce back Kuwait-Iran, Kuwait City, 26 March, 19:45 (local time)
Iran have never been defeated by Kuwait in their six previous encounters in the Preliminary Competition, with the record of four wins and two draws. However, Ali Daei, the Iranians' new coach, who watched his side go down 1-0 to Bahrain in a friendly on Friday, is left with a headache to end the goal drought his team have suffered since July. For their part, hosts Kuwait are hoping to put an end to four consecutive defeats in Asian qualifiers, and they warmed up for this crucial match with a creditable 0-0 draw with Asian champions Iraq on Friday. The Kuwaitis have twice met the Iranians at home, where they lost 2-1 in 1977 and drew 1-1 in 1997.
Syria-United Arab Emirates, Damascus, 26 March, 14:30 (local time)
The Syrians held Iran to a goalless draw in Tehran last month, and this is another chance to cause another upset. Current leaders United Arab Emirates can consolidate their position with a win here, and coach Bruno Metsu is likely to start with the striking pair of Mohamed Al Shehhi and Faisal Khalil, who found the net against Kuwait last month.