Japan back in 2022 contention as Aussies and Saudis draw

November 12 – Japan dragged themselves back into contention for an automatic qualification place for Qatar 2022 with crucial 1-0 away win in Vietnam.

The Japanese had pulled all their Europe-based players back for this must-win fixture and at the halfway stage sit a point behind Australia who drew with Group B table toppers Saudi Arabia 0-0. The Saudis are three points ahead of the Aussies.

Japan now have a tricky away fixture against Oman who drew with China last night, leaving them two points behind the Japanese. Oman beat Japan in Japan in the opening round of group qualifiers.

Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu said that limited time together ahead of the win over Vietnam meant they weren’t firing on all cylinders, but Junya Ito’s goal in the 17th minute alleviated pressure early on and was enough for them to claim a second successive win.

“We only had one hour to practice with the full squad the day before the game, and I had to decide if the players who had travelled from Europe were ready to play. This was a really difficult task,” said Moriyasu.

Oman’s draw has kept them in the running but a loss to Japan would leave them five points off the intercontinental play off place with only four games left to play. Only the top two teams in each group qualify for Qatar 2022 automatically, with the third placed teams going into a play-off for the inter-continental play-off.

South Korea and Iran open gap

In Group A South Korea effectively ended the UAE’s chance of automatic qualification with a 1-0 home win.

That win opened up a gap of six points to third placed Lebanon who lost to Group A leaders Iran by a goal. Iran are three points ahead of South Korea.

With automatic qualifying spots looking secured, the big battle is for the play off position. Currently just three points separate Lebanon, Iraq, UAE and Syria with five games to play.

In the last round Iraq and Syria drew 1-1.
The UAE are away to Lebanon on Tuesday and a win would see them take the third place slot off the Lebanese, assuming that Iran and South Korea both continue their winning runs and beat Iraq and Syria, both games are away from home.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1638371205labto1638371205ofdlr1638371205owedi1638371205sni@n1638371205osloh1638371205cin.l1638371205uap1638371205

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