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Nov 2011
World Cup 2014 Qualifiers in Asia

Professional Football

David Serrano

The fourth round of matches in the third group stage of Asian qualification has already eliminated some teams from the next World Cup in Brazil in 2014. There was bad news for UAE, Indonesia, North Korea, Singapore, Tajikistan and Jose Antonio Camacho’s China who all won’t be going to the next World Cup, despite there being 2 games left.

The China team came up against Iraq in Doha because the home team could not guarantee the total security of the opposition. Jose Antonio Camacho against Zico, the Iraqi coach. If China lost they would be out of the competition. The match promised to be very interesting to football lovers – and it did not disappoint. The only thing was it did not have a big crowd but it was engaging until the last minute.

China had control of the game from the start taking more risks than Zico’s team. Camacho’s side decided to go for it and players like Zhao Xuri, Gao Lin, Liu Jianye or the sub who came on after the break, Wu Pingfeng were constantly contesting the Iraqi keeper Mohammed Kassid. The game progressed and Camacho’s team could not get the breakthrough. 0-0 was still lit up on the scoreboard in Doha. At the time China were pressurising the Iraqi goal they had a setback – the sending off of defender Zhang Lingpeng. When China were physically spent from their efforts throughout the match, Younis Mahmoud finished off a 92nd minute counter attack giving Iraq the three points and pulled away from China in the table. Group A sees Jordan already qualified for the second round.

In Group B, South Korea lead the group after beating the UAE 2-0 with goals from Lee Keun-Hoy and Park Chu Young, the ex-Monaco striker and recently signed by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Lebanon are second above Kuwait. This ends the UAE’s interest without any points.

So goalscorers in Alberto Zaccheroni’s team were striker, Shinji Okazaki who got two, Yasuyuki Konno and Ryoichi Maeda, to give a final scoreline of 4-0. What stood out was the performance of the Stuttgart striker Okazaki with his 2 goals, confirming his position as one of the best players in Asia at the moment.
Japan and Uzbekistan have booked their places in the next round, leaving the other 2 teams in the group, North Korea and Tajikistan, out of the competition. So North Korea, in the finals of the last World Cup 2010, will not be repeating their experiences in 2014.

Australia seem to have everything under control in Group D to go through to the next round. The Socceroos almost had the three points in the bag, but a motivated Oman team delayed their qualification. Amad Ali was responsible for beating the Australian keeper Schwarzer. Despite the defeat, Australia are still group leaders followed by Saudi Arabia. This ends Thailand and Oman’s hopes.

In Group E, it looks to be clearer now with Iran drawing on their visit to Bahrain. The performance of Iran captain, Javad Nekounam stood out. And Qatar beat Indonesia 4-0 with goals from Mohammed Razak, Ibrahim Khalfan with two, and Andres Quintana, a Uruguayan player with Qatari nationality who came through the youth teams of Uruguay’s Liverpool FC and then played in the Qatari U23 team. Iran and Qatar occupy the first two places followed by Bahrain leaving Indonesia mathematically eliminated.