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▶ Sextet stay perfect as Thailand draw in Seoul [2024/03/24   ]

Australia, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates maintained their perfect starts to the second round of AFC qualification for the FIFA World Cup 26™. Korea Republic, meanwhile, lost their 100-per-cent record in a shock draw at home to Thailand as Singapore rallied from two goals down to hold China PR.

Elsewhere, Bahrain, IR Iran and Palestine all won by five goals, while Jordan kick-started their campaign.

Group A

    Afghanistan 0-0 India

    Qatar 3-0 Kuwait

Afghanistan, who lost their first two games 8-1 to Qatar and 4-0 to Kuwait, unexpectedly got their first point on the board thanks to a scoreless draw with India. Some infallible defending restricted the Blue Tigers to shots from distance in Abha.

Akram Afif continued his excellent form as Qatar moved on to nine points. Kuwait did manage to go in at the break level, but Tintin Marquez’s side turned it on thereafter to consolidate top spot.

Group B

    Myanmar 1-1 Syria

    Japan 1-0 Korea DPR

Japan didn't have things all their own way against Korea DPR at Tokyo's National Stadium, but a second-minute strike from Ao Tanaka was enough to maintain their perfect start to qualification. Hajime Moriyasu's outfit put aside the disappointment of a quarter-final exit at the recent AFC Asian Cup to stay clear at the top of the section and close in on a place in the third round.

Syria leapfrogged Korea DPR into second after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Myanmar in Yangon. Centre-back Soe Moe Kyaw put the hosts in front in the first half, before Syrian substitute Alaa Al Dali scooped home from close range midway through the second.

Group C

    Korea Republic 1-1 Thailand

    Singapore 2-2 China PR

It was a disappointing start for new coach Hwang Sunhong as Korea Republic were held to a 1-1 draw by Thailand in Seoul. Son Heungmin put the hosts in front three minutes shy of the break, but an equaliser from Suphanat Mueanta just after the hour earned the War Elephants a share of the spoils to maintain their hopes of reaching the third round.

Singapore and China were both under new coaches and they played out a lively 2-2 draw in the island nation. A first-half brace from forward Wu Lei had the visitors in the box seat, before goals from Faris Ramli and Jacob Mahler earned the Lions a point.

The draw keeps China third, behind Thailand on goal difference, with Singapore fourth but with only three points separating the trio, it’s all still to play for.

Group D

    Chinese Taipei 0-2 Kyrgyz Republic

    Oman 2-0 Malaysia

In Kaohsiung, Kyrgyz Republic recovered from an early red card to score twice after the break, via a Valery Kichin penalty and a Kai Merk effort, in a 2-0 win over Chinese Taipei.

In Muscat, new coach Jaroslav Silhavy saw his Oman side dig deep to get the victory they needed. Both sides had chances but, after deadlock was intact for almost an hour, Issam Al-Sabhi and Muhsen Al-Ghassani found the target to send Oman top on goal difference from Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia.

Group E

    Hong Kong 0-2 Uzbekistan

    IR Iran 5-0 Turkmenistan

After missing the Asian Cup through injury, Uzbekistan captain Eldor Shomurodov made a welcome return, grabbing the opener early in the second half in in a 2-0 victory over Hong Kong. Rustam Ashurmatov made sure of the points as he nodded home a corner in the 66th minute to maintain the White Wolves’ undefeated start.

Team Melli remain above Uzbekistan on goal difference thanks to an emphatic win. Centre-back Hossein Kanaani, who turns 30 on Saturday, bagged a himself an early present with his second international brace in six months, while Sardar Azmoun got his 52nd goal for Iran. Mohammad Mohebi and Omid Noorafkan completed the rout.

Group F

    Indonesia 1-0 Vietnam

    Iraq 1-0 Philippines

Regional rivals Indonesia and Vietnam clashed in Jakarta with the hosts picking up a desperately needed win. Half-time substitute Egy Maulana grabbed the only goal of the match just seven minutes after his introduction. The victory sees Indonesia move up to second in the group, with Vietnam dropping back to third.

In Basra, Neil Etheridge’s superb reflexes had the Philippines on the verge of an unforeseen draw, only for talisman Mohanad Ali to nick his nation all three points. The result pushed Iraq five points clear at the summit.

Group G

    Pakistan 0-3 Jordan

    Saudi Arabia 1-0 Tajikistan

One of Asia's brightest stars, Mousa Al-Tamari, struck in just the second minute in Islamabad to set Jordan on their way to a first win of the second round. Ali Olwan doubled the lead shortly after, and Al-Tamari completed his brace four minutes from time to bag a valuable three points for Jordan.

Salem Al-Dawsari’s first-half goal proved enough for Saudi Arabia. Tajikistan nevertheless gave their illustrious hosts some nervy moments and will take heart from their endeavours.

Group H

    Nepal 0-5 Bahrain

    United Arab Emirates 2-1 Yemen

In an ill-tempered affair, the UAE passed a strict examination. Nineteen-year-old Sultan Adil struck the winner to move Paulo Bento’s charges on to maximum points from three run-outs.

Ali Madan was at his mercurial best as Bahrain cruised to victory. The result left the victors three points behind section leaders United Arab Emirates.

Group I

    Australia 2-0 Lebanon

    Palestine 5-0 Bangladesh

Australia continued their perfect start in this phase with a 2-0 win over a Lebanon side that made the hosts work hard for the victory in Sydney. Debut international goals from Keanu Baccus and Kye Rowles secured maximum points for the Socceroos, who can punch a ticket to the third round with another victory over the same opposition in Canberra next week.

Bangladesh threatened an upset for over 40 minutes, but they simply had no answer for Oday Dabbagh thereafter. The 25-year-old's treble helped lift Palestine to second.


    Both Australia and Japan are yet to concede a goal in more than 270 minutes of action in the second round.

    After Harry Souttar was on target in the first two matches, Kye Rowles' goal for the Socceroos made it three straight games with a defender on the score-sheet.

    All of Uzbekistan's seven goals in this section of qualification have come in the second half of their matches.

    Palestinian star Oday Dabbagh became the fifth player to score a hat-trick in this phase of qualification, following earlier efforts from Almoez Ali, Jong Ilgwan, Ayase Ueda and Jamie Maclaren.

What they said

Igor Stimac (India coach): “I’m disappointed with the result in the end because we created three or four really good chances. We could not score, which is the problem that has been following us for many years, it is a well-known problem in our football.”

Ao Tanaka (Japan midfielder): “It was a difficult match and I kind of feel that we made it difficult for ourselves but winning is what matters most in the end”

Son Heungmin (Korea Republic forward): ‘The most positive element of tonight’s match was that we tried to play together as a team. We needed to show people that every player, from those on the pitch down to guys sitting on the bench would try to become one.”

Tsutomu Ogura (Singapore coach): “Please don’t say congratulations, if we got another goal that is congratulations. Of course, China is a good team and it was difficult but we had chances to win. In the last five to ten minutes we could have won.”

Next up

26 March 2024

India v Afghanistan (Group A)
Kuwait v Qatar (Group A)
Syria v Myanmar (Group B)
China PR v Singapore (Group C)
Thailand v Korea Republic (Group C)
Kyrgyz Republic v Chinese Taipei (Group D)
Malaysia v Oman (Group D)
Uzbekistan v Hong Kong, China (Group E)
Turkmenistan v IR Iran (Group E)
Vietnam v Indonesia (Group F)
Philippines v Iraq (Group F)
Jordan v Pakistan (Group G)
Tajikistan v Saudi Arabia (Group G)
Bahrain v Nepal (Group H)
Yemen v United Arab Emirates (Group H)
Bangladesh v Palestine (Group I)
Lebanon v Australia (Group I)

- The origianl text resource is from FIFA Official Website

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