Japan, Iraq, Qatar and Uzbekistan win in 2014 World Cup qualifier
Japan, Iraq, Qatar and Uzbekistan win in 2014 World Cup qualifier
Qatar beat Lebanon 1-0 in the 2022 World Cup host’s bid to reach the tournament for the first time, while Uzbekistan vanquished Iran 1-0 in the other Group A match.
With Oman pressing, Japan went on the counterattack and Gotoku Sakai’s cross into the area deflected off Yasuhito Endo and landed into the path of Okazaki, who scored in the 89th minute.
Japan leads Group B in Asian qualifying by eight points over Australia, Jordan and Oman and is on the verge of reaching its fifth World Cup with three matches remaining.
“The first half was tough for us as it was hot and made an impact on the players. But as the sun set and conditions became better, it suited our style and we played better in the second half,” Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said. “Oman played good and it was difficult to break through their defense. But I instructed my players to attack more from the flanks, which finally worked in our favor.”
Oman almost took the lead in the 10th. Amad Al-Hosni’s quick throw-in caught the Japan defense sleeping, but Fawzi Bashir blazed a shot over the crossbar.
Japan started pressing and scored in the 20th minute thanks to Yuto Nagatomo’s cross to Hiroshi Kiyotake, who slotted the ball into the net after a defensive lapse by Rashid Al-Farsi.
Oman had a chance to level in the 36th when Ismail Al-Ajmi fed Al Gheilani Hassan Yousuf Madhafar, whose header hit the post and rolled across the goal-mouth before being cleared to safety.
Oman leveled when a free kick from Ahmed Mubarak slipped under the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima in the 77th.
Three minutes later, Kawashima was forced to race off his line to block at the feet of Saleh.
“I am proud of my boys and happy on the way they played against one of the best teams in the world,” Oman coach Paul Le Guen said. “We still have nine points to fight for and we will not give up till the end.”
Iraq won its first match due to Ahmed Hammadi’s blistering shot from outside the area in the 86th minute. Iraq plays its matches in Qatar due to security concerns at home.
“The match was very difficult. We had a youthful team at our disposal. I congratulate them for winning this,” Iraq coach Zico said. “We badly needed a win to remain alive in the fray.”
Jordan was left to rue some missed chances that could have given it the momentum early on. In the 30th minute, striker Abdallah Deeb’s shot flew just over the crossbar, and he was denied four minutes later by a great save from goalkeeper Noor Sabri, who only got better as the match wore on.
Sabri stopped Husam Ibrahim Ali in the second half from point-blank range and then turned away a shot from substitute Hamza Al-Dardour in the closing minutes with an acrobatic save. He first stopped the ball with his left foot and then cleared it with his right hand.
On the hour mark, Jordan replaced both strikers with Ahmed Hayel coming in for Thaer Bawab and Odai Al-Saify for Abdallah. Ahmed wasted one chance with a weak finish.
“We have created many chances but couldn’t convert,” Jordan coach Adnan Ahmed. “This is football, but this isn’t the end of road for us. We hope that we can improve in our game next time. We still have three games and the door is wide open.”
Jordan is bottom of Group B, nine points behind leader Japan.
Qatar beats Lebanon
In Doha, a long-range strike from Uruguayan-born striker Sebastian Suria helped Qatar beat Lebanon 1-0.
Suria took a pass from Fabio Cesar and fired the ball from 20 meters outside the area, sending it curling past Lebanon keeper Abbas Hassan. The goal set off raucous celebrations among the home supporters, who are desperate for a good showing after Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar almost doubled its lead 10 minutes later when Suria sent a back-heel pass to Lawrence, whose driving shot was knocked away by Hassan. Lebanon had a chance to draw level in extra time but Qasem Burhan saved Roda Antar’s shot.
Uzbekistan beats Iran
In Tehran, Uzbekistan beat Iran 1-0, throwing open Group A where four teams are now within a point of the top spot.
Striker Ulugbek Bakaev got hold of a curling free kick from Server Djepararov to score the winner in the 71st minute. The win sends Uzbekistan to the top of Group A, a point ahead of South Korea, Iran and Qatar. South Korea did not play Wednesday.
Iran had a chance to equalize but a goal in injury time from substitute Milad Nori was disallowed for offside.
Iran, which beat Uzbekistan in its opening match, has struggled to find its form. The team failed to reach the 2010 World Cup but is a favorite to advance this time.
Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp
- Squad of 28 to be based in Zurich
- Friendlies on the horizon against Italy and Peru
Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a 28-man squad to Zurich for the final stage of the Green Falcons’ World Cup preparations.
The party flew out of Jeddah late last night and landed in Switzerland early this morning. There they will be joined by Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who will fly in from Spain after playing for Levante and Villarreal on Saturday night.
The three-week training camp in the Swiss resort town of Bad Ragaz gives Pizzi the chance to get stuck into some intense tactical and physical work with his players and decide which five players to leave out of his squad. He must whittle down his list down to 23 by June 4, which gives the players get two final chances to stake their claim for a seat on the plane in friendlies against Italy on May 28 and Peru on June 3. By the time they play Germany in Leverkusen on June 8, Pizzi will have named his party for the assignment in Russia.
Pizzi is clearly much nearer knowing who he will take as he has only made minor changes to the squad he named for the recent wins against Greece and Algeria.
Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Assaf Al-Qarni replaces his club teammate Fawaz Al-Qarni as the fourth stopper in the squad, as Pizzi looks settled on retaining Al-Ahli duo Yasser Al-Mosaileem and Mohammed Al-Owais in addition to Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. One of those four will fail to make the cut as no team takes four goalkeepers to the World Cup.
There were no changes in the backline where the former Chile boss is opting for harmony. Eight of the nine defenders called up ply their trade at Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli, while Al-Nassr’s Omar Hawsawi rounds off the selection. One defender might have to make way and Al-Hilal teammates Mohammad Jahfali and Ali Al-Bulayhi could well find themselves vying for one spot on the plane to Moscow.
Abdullah Otayf and Taisir Al-Jassim look to be firm favorites to make the starting XI in the base of midfield, while the third central spot is up for grabs. Hussein Al-Moqahwi has regularly featured in that position, but Salman Al-Faraj’s return from a long injury saw him start both friendlies in the Spain training camp. Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari could emerge as the more conservative midfield enforcer against stronger sides.
The center of the pitch is where the most intense battle of positions will take place. As many as three midfielders could be left behind come June 4. Ibrahim Ghaleb has already been left out and he may be joined by Al-Shabab duo Hattan Bahebri and Abdulla Al-Khaibari. One of Mohammad Kanno and Mohammed Al Kuwaikbi could be the last man to be dropped in two weeks’ time.
Up front, Harun Kamara, a surprise call-up for the recent friendlies, failed to retain his spot in the squad so Mohannad Assiri and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi will battle it out for the sole striker position.
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli); Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal); Assaf Al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)
Defenders: Motaz Hawsawi, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Mansour Al-Harbi (Al-Ahli); Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfali, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal); Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr).
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab); Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdulla Otayf, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abid (Al-Hilal); Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli); Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq); Salem Al-Dawsari (Villarreal); Fahad Al-Muwallad (Levante); Yahya Al-Shehri (Leganes)
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr); Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)