Heavyweights take points in Asia qualifiers
Asian heavyweights Japan, South Korea and Australia all took
strides toward automatic qualification for the 2014 World Cup by
earning creditable results on Tuesday.
Iran, another one of the favorites to advance, was forced to
settle for a 0-0 draw against Qatar.
Japan drew 1-1 away to Australia, which will be grateful for a
point after playing most of the second half a man down. Japan tops
Group B with seven points from two games with Australia in second
with two points from two games. Iraq and Oman were also on two
points after drawing 1-1.
South Korea won 3-0 at home against Lebanon to lead Group A with
two wins from two games. Iran and Qatar were two points behind
while Lebanon and Uzbekistan had one point each and face an uphill
task to make the top two and qualify automatically for Brazil
In Brisbane, Luke Wilkshire’s 70th-minute penalty allowed 10-man
Australia to salvage a draw against Japan in a game strewn with
contentious refereeing decisions.
Australia played a man down after substitute Mark Milligan
picked up a harsh second booking in the 55th, and Japan capitalized
10 minutes later when Keisuke Honda dribbled in and passed
perfectly across the face of goal for Yuzo Kurihara to tap in.
Wilkshire equalized five minutes later after Saudi referee
Khalil Al Ghamdi awarded a questionable penalty against Atsuto
Uchida for pulling back Alex Brosque on the goal-line as Australia
took a corner.
Japan also finished the game with 10 men after goalscorer
Kurihara received his second yellow for bundling Brosque to the
ground in an off-the-ball incident.
The refereeing drama went right to the wire: Honda was lining up
a free kick only for Ghamdi to decide he was taking too long to
take the shot and blew the whistle for fulltime, to the bemusement
of Japan’s players and bench.
”The way things went with the red card, we had to dig in,”
Australia captain Lucas Neill said. ”A little bit of Aussie spirit
came into play. We could have gone on to win it (but) we’ll take
the draw. Both teams will be happy with it.
”This is arguably the best Japanese team that’s ever been put
out, let’s give credit to the Australian boys.”
Honda agreed it was a good result.
”A 1-1 draw away is not a bad result,” Honda said. ”They have
a lot of experienced players and controlled the pace at the start
but we gradually got into the game and found our rhythm. We had
more chances from midway through the second half until the
Oman kept alive its hopes of advancing by drawing with Iraq.
Oman, which also drew with Australia last week, struck in the
eighth minute when Mohammed al-Balushi headed home a cross from
Hussain Ali al-Hadhri.
Iraq star striker Younis Mahmoud equalized in the 37th from the
penalty spot, awarded after Oman defender Abdul al-Mukhaini was
called for a handball.
”Playing against Iraq is always difficult. But I’m satisfied
with the result, even after playing three games in a row without
much break,” Oman coach Paul Le Guen said.
Iraq coach Zico said the team’s hopes of advancing were still
”We need to work hard a lot,” Zico said. ”As we’re playing
with lot of seniors who’ve been there for the last 10 years, Iraqi
football needs innovation.”
Qatar served as Iraq’s home ground as FIFA has banned Iraq from
hosting internationals because of safety concerns in the war-torn
country. The temperature for much of the match was above 40 degrees
Celsius (104 F), since Iraq didn’t have the luxury that Qatar had
last week of playing in the country’s only air-conditioned
In Goyang, Kim Bo-kyoung scored the opening two goals as South
Korea made it two wins from two to take command in Group A.
Despite losing midfielder Ki Sung-yeung to injury early on, Kim
opened the scoring in the 29th when his shot went in off the
Lebanon attacks were few and far between and just two minutes
after the restart, Kim collected the ball on the halfway line and
out-ran the defenders to score his second.
Koo Ja-cheol capped the scoring as regulation time expired,
stripping the ball from a too-casual Lebanon defender and lashing
in a fierce shot.
”We are not able to compare ourselves with Korea,” Lebanon
coach Theo Bucker said. ”They are far ahead of us in many
Qatar survived an onslaught from Iran to secure a goal-less
draw. Iran wasted the bulk of possession and good chances, thanks
in part to Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan. It has scored only once
in its first two matches.
”It was difficult as I had expected. But it was a game that
moved only in one direction: Towards the Qatar goal,” Iran coach
Carlos Queiroz said. ”Our inability to find the target cost us two