Saudi Arabia seek win over Japan that will confirm qualification to 2022 World Cup finals

Saudi Arabia seek win over Japan that will confirm qualification to 2022 World Cup finals
Saudi Arabia's players celebrate their opening goal during the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian Qualifiers football match between Saudi Arabia and Oman. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 31 January 2022

Saudi Arabia seek win over Japan that will confirm qualification to 2022 World Cup finals

Saudi Arabia seek win over Japan that will confirm qualification to 2022 World Cup finals
  • Three points at Saitama Stadium on Tuesday will leave Australia, Japan and Oman fighting over Group B’s automatic and play-off spots for Qatar 2022

JEDDAH: For Saudi Arabia, qualification to the 2022 World Cup finals edges ever so closer. A win over Japan at Saitama Stadium tomorrow, in fact, will confirm a sixth appearance at football’s biggest stage and a second in a row.

Billed as the toughest group out of the two in Asia, Group B of the Asian World Cup qualifiers continues to provide intrigue as it heads into its final three rounds of fixtures.

Thursday’s matches saw no change in the standings for the four top teams, as Saudi Arabia continued leading the group with its 1-0 victory over Oman who stayed in fourth place — whereas second-placed Japan recorded a 2-0 win over China and third-placed Australia easily dispatched Vietnam 4-0.

The results mean Saudi Arabia sit comfortably atop of the group with a four-point gap over Japan who they face in their next outing. A win for the Green Falcons would ensure progression, while other outcomes could go a long way to deciding who joins Iran as the second Asian team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Saudi Arabia managing to grind out a narrow victory against a resilient Omani team has meant that they relieved some of the pressure heading into Tuesday’s fixture, as they guaranteed that regardless of the outcome, Japan would unable to leapfrog them in the table on the day.

On the other hand, Japan who keep having to look over their shoulder as Australia sit one point away from them in the table, could be out of the guaranteed qualifying spots if they fail to outdo Australia’s result on Tuesday. Japan will look to use their home advantage to even the score with Saudi Arabia who they lost to three months ago in Jeddah.

The last few outings between the two sides have been tight affairs, four matches split with two wins a piece with all matches ending with a one goal difference.

The clear losers of last Thursday’s round of matches were Oman, who despite a promising display could not convert their chances against Saudi, failing to close the gap on third-placed Australia who, as things stand, hold the playoff spot in Group B. Currently seven points adrift of third place, Oman have dug themselves into a hole that may prove too deep to climb out off.

Oman face Australia on Tuesday in a crucial match with nothing but a win needed to keep their hopes alive. If they fail to win then the gap will increase to 10 points and they will mathematically be ruled out of the race for third. Whoever finishes third faces a tough path to the World Cup, having to participate in a play-off against whoever finishes third in Group A of the Asian Qualifiers. The winner of that play-off will eventually play a decider against a South American team who is yet to be determined as they too are playing out their remaining fixtures.

Australia will look to avoid this route as a win over Oman will allow the country to control its fate going into the last two rounds of fixtures where they will face Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday’s fixtures will go a long way in determining who will finish in the top three spots of Group B, and in what order.

A victory for Saudi Arabia will confirm their position as one of Asia’s footballing giants.

The recent resurgence in the national team — having qualified for France 2018 — correlates with the resurgence of Saudi club football as Al-Hilal have won two of the last three editions of the AFC Champions League. Australia and Japan, meanwhile, will continue their quest for automatic qualification whereas Oman look to stay in contention for third.


Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup

Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup
Updated 10 sec ago

Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup

Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup
LUSAIL, Qatar: Vincent Aboubakar scored with a header two minutes into stoppage time in Cameroon’s 1-0 win over Brazil at the World Cup on Friday, a result that still allowed the five-time champions to win the group and eliminated the Africans.
Aboubakar was then sent off with a second yellow card for taking off his shirt during his celebration.
Brazil, which had already reached the knockout stage after victories over Serbia and Switzerland, will face South Korea in the round of 16.
Brazil finished with six points, the same as Switzerland but the South Americans had a better goal difference. The Swiss also advanced and will face Portugal. Cameroon ended with four points and Serbia one.
Coach Tite rested nearly all of his regular starters and made 10 changes from the win against Switzerland on Monday.
Brazil was still without the injured Neymar, but the star forward was at Lusail Stadium to watch the match with his teammates.

Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup

Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup
Updated 11 min 47 sec ago

Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup

Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup
  • Remo Freuler scored the winning goal just after halftime as the Swiss secured second place in Group G
  • They will next face Portugal on Tuesday at Lusail Stadium

DOHA: Switzerland advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup for the third tournament in a row after a 3-2 win over Serbia on Friday.
Remo Freuler scored the winning goal just after halftime as the Swiss secured second place in Group G. They will next face Portugal on Tuesday at Lusail Stadium.
Xherdan Shaqiri put Switzerland ahead early in the first half before Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic responded for Serbia. Breel Embolo evened the score just before halftime.
Switzerland needed a win to guarantee themselves a place in the knockout round after beating Cameroon and losing to Brazil in their opening two games. The team reached the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and again four years later in Russia. They lost 1-0 in both matches, to Argentina and Sweden, respectively.
Against Portugal, the Swiss will be looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since hosting the competition in 1954.


Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss

Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss
Updated 02 December 2022

Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss

Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss
  • The 37-year-old skipper looked miffed and ambled off slowly when his number went up in the 65th minute
  • "He was angry with the player from Korea and everyone saw that," Santos said

DOHA: Cristiano Ronaldo was “insulted” by a South Korean player as he was substituted during Portugal’s 2-1 World Cup defeat on Friday, coach Fernando Santos said.
The 37-year-old skipper looked miffed and ambled off slowly when his number went up in the 65th minute.
Santos denied that was because he was upset at being hooked.
“He was angry with the player from Korea and everyone saw that,” Santos said after his side topped Group H despite conceding in injury time to fall to defeat for the first time in Qatar.
“The player was insulting him, telling him to go away (get off the pitch) so that’s why he was angry and everyone saw that.
“I saw the interaction with the Korean player and have no doubt about it.”
Becoming irritated by the line of questioning, Santos added: “He (the Korean player) was not aggressive, he was verbally aggressive.
“He was speaking in English to Cristiano and Cristiano said, ‘Well, perhaps he did not have a good day.’“
South Korean midfielder Hwang In-beom attempted to play down the controversy.
“I didn’t see it, I was too tired,” he said. “I was looking at the ground, so I didn’t see it and I have nothing to say.”


Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out
Updated 02 December 2022

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out
  • Suarez was distraught on the sidelines and covered his face
  • Suarez had been substituted when the screen at Al-Janoub Stadium suddenly flashed that South Korea was in second place

AL-WAKRAH, Qatar: This time, Luis Suarez cried on the sidelines after Uruguay were eliminated from the World Cup despite a 2-0 win over Ghana on Friday.
The result also put Ghana out of the competition.
Suarez played a key role in both first-half goals scored by Giorgian De Arrascaeta and Uruguay appeared headed for the round of 16 after inflicting more pain on Ghana 12 years after their now-infamous meeting in the quarterfinals at the World Cup in South Africa.
Then, Suarez denied Ghana a winning goal with a deliberate handball on the goal-line and having been sent off, he celebrated wildly on the sidelines when Ghana missed the resultant penalty.
Uruguay were in a position to go through in Qatar until South Korea’s late goal gave it a 2-1 win over Portugal in the other Group H game. That meant Uruguay needed to score one more goal in the dying minutes of its game to qualify.
They didn’t and were eliminated because they had scored fewer goals than South Korea in the group stage. Suarez was distraught on the sidelines and covered his face with his shirt having been substituted in what was likely his last World Cup appearance.
Uruguay’s goals came in a six-minute spell soon after Ghana raised more memories of the 2010 quarterfinal by missing a penalty.
A Suarez shot led to De Arrascaeta’s opener and Suarez set up the second with a clever pass that De Arrascaeta volleyed in. After those two strikes, Uruguay thought it was on its way to the knockouts.
Ghana captain Andre Ayew, the team’s only survivor from the 2010 squad, had his penalty saved by Sergio Rochet in the 21st minute and the game changed immediately after that. De Arrascaeta scored in the 26th and 32nd minutes to crush Ghana hopes.
But the Uruguayans were ultimately also crushed.
Suarez had been substituted when the screen at Al-Janoub Stadium suddenly flashed that South Korea was in second place in the group after a late goal against Portugal.
Uruguay surged forward in search of the goal that would have put it through. Substitutes Maximiliano Gomez and Sebastian Coates both missed late chances and Suarez was crying after the final whistle.


Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah
Updated 02 December 2022

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah
  • Jeddah will host 21 drifters from 18 different countries who will battle it out to be named the Red Bull Car Park Drift King

JEDDAH: For the first time ever the Red Bull Car Park Drift World Final will be held in Saudi Arabia on December 8 in Jeddah.

Organizers Saudi Motorsport Company and Jeddah Corniche Circuit are promising fans the “best ever” season-ending event as tickets for the final have gone on sale.

Jeddah will host 21 drifters from 18 different countries who will battle it out to be named the Red Bull Car Park Drift King of Drift for 2022. 

Expert power control, pure pace, and the most delicate of touches will be the difference between victory and defeat for the competitors, set to deliver packed grandstands and a festive atmosphere.

For Saudi motorsport fans, the event will welcome three competitors from the Kingdom. Those drivers will be confirmed at a qualifying event on 3 December.

With tickets available for all fans of high octane, Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) CEO, Martin Whitaker, said he is counting down the days to one of Jeddah’s biggest automotive moments. 

“I believe the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is one of the best ever venues in the long and impressive history of the Red Bull Car Park Drift and we expect an event which is more than equal to this stunning location,” he said.

“This is such a special event for the region, and we are so proud to be able to bring it to Jeddah and give drifting fans the chance to experience world-class competition.

“Of course, with three Saudi Arabian drivers competing in the final we expect the crowd to be more enthusiastic than ever and how special it would be to see a local driver crowned the King of Drift,” he added.

The Saudi drivers will go head-to-head with drifters who qualified in competitions from Jamaica to Mauritius, Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Kenya to South Africa, while the series also travelled through Poland, Estonia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, as well as Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan and Lebanon.