Qatar became the first team to reach Round 3 as Australia usurped Jordan from their section’s summit and Iran strode clear of Oman. China PR’s hopes took a hit across the border, but fellow 21st-century FIFA World Cup™ participants Japan, Korea DPR, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia took positive steps on the long road to Russia. FIFA.com reviews the developments.
*Kyrgyzstan 1-0 Jordan
Anton Zemlianukhin was the hero as Kyrgyzstan upset Jordan – a side 42 places above them on the FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking. Resolute defending was central to the victory, which was secured when the Serbia-based midfielder wriggled past two defenders to score his fourth goal of the campaign after 48 minutes. That result enabled Australia, who thrashed Bangladesh 4-0 largely thanks to a Tim Cahill hat-trick, to leapfrog the Jordanians at the top of Group B.
The other attractions
*Saudi Arabia maintained their three-point cushion at *Group A summit by winning 10-0 in Timor-Leste. Mohammad Al Sahlawi was on target five times as the visitors recorded their biggest victory of the campiagn. Hot on the Saudis' heels are United Arab Emirates, who edged hosts Malaysia 2-1 with playmaker Omar Abdulrahman and captain Ahmed Khalil on target in each half.
Captain Hassan Al Haidos scored a brace as Qatar kept their 100 per cent record intact with a 3-0 success in Bhutan. The west Asians’ progression was confirmed by the goalless draw between Hong Kong and China. The former’s point was indebted to goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai, the woodwork and Lady Luck. Huang Bowen and Yang Xu each rattled the crossbar for the Chinese in the first half, before Yu Dabao and Bi Jinhao hit the upright in the closing stages, leaving them in third in Group C.
In Group D, despite missing four players, Iran repeated their 6-0 triumph over Guam in Tehran by beating the same team by the same score in Dededo. Mehdi Taremi was again on target twice in a game in which both sides were reduced to ten men. Team Melli moved three points above second-placed Oman, who surprisingly lost 2-1 away to Turkmenistan.
Japan could have found themselves shockingly behind at the break in Cambodia, but a Khuon Laboravy own-goal and a last-gasp effort from Keisuke Honda earned a 2-0 win that kept them top of Group E. Syria stayed one point behind the Japanese, but they were seriously made to sweat for it. Omar Khribin had given them the lead, but Safuwan Baharudin's last-minute penalty appeared to have snatched Singapore a point. Deep into stoppage-time, however, Khribin struck again to secure a 2-1 victory. Japan and Syria meet in Saitama in their final game.
In Group F, captain Younis Mahmoud set up Dhurgham Ismail for the opener before netting the second with a sublime free-kick as Iraq beat Chinese Taipei to reduce the gap to leaders Thailand to five points. With a game in hand, the Iraqis will qualify if they win their remaining two matches at home to the Thais and Vietnam.
With the match between Myanmar and Kuwait postponed, Group G front-runners Korea Republic extended their lead to eight points by routing hosts Laos 5-0. Ki Sungyueng and Son Heungmin scored a brace apiece as the Taeguk Warriors maintained their unblemished record.
Group H leaders Korea DPR bounced back to defeat Bahrain 2-0 at home, with Pak Kwangryong and Jong Ilgwan scoring in each half. The result, coupled with Uzbekistan's 3-1 victory over Yemen, kept the Chollima one point clear in pole position.
*Mohammad Al Sahlawi has proved Saudi Arabia's talisman throughout their smooth campaign. The in-form 28-year-old’s quintet in Dili saw him leapfrog the UAE’s Ahmed Khalil and go three clear atop of Asian qualifying’s scoring chart.
*Do you know?
*Younis Mahmoud extended his record number of Iraq caps to 145 against Chinese Taipei. By sealing victory with his 57th international goal, he moved just five behind Ahmed Radhi and 21 shy of Hussein Saeed – the only men above him on his country’s list of all-time leading marksmen.
What they said
*Yahya Alwan, Iraq coach:* "The win was important because we have reduced the gap on Thailand and put more pressure on them. The road is still long and things will be decided in the last two matchdays.”
Matchday 8 results
Group A: Malaysia 1-2 United Arab Emirates, Timor-Leste 0-10 Saudi Arabia
Group B: Bangladesh 0-4 Australia, Kyrgyzstan 1-0 Jordan
Group C: Hong Kong 0-0 China PR, Bhutan 0-3 Qatar
Group D: Turkmenistan 2-1 Oman, Guam 0-6 Iran
Group E: Singapore 1-2 Syria, Cambodia 0-2 Japan
Group F: Chinese Taipei 0-2 Iraq
Group G: Laos 0-5 Korea Republic
Group H: Yemen 1-3 Uzbekistan, Korea DPR 2-0 Bahrain