—– Syria joined Japan as the second nation to qualify for the third round of Asia’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers after victory over Guam in Group A.
The Syrians impressively extended their winning streak to seven matches in the group this campaign.
China PR had to wait until the second half to find their goals against a resilient Philippines side as they continue their fight to finish as one of the best runners-up. It was coach Li Tie’s side’s fifth clean sheet in their last six World Cup qualifiers and he’ll be pleased that on the other side of the pitch star man Wu Lei has scored six goals in his last six qualifiers.
Australia strengthened their place at the top of Group B with a 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei thanks to four different goalscorers. Jordan beat Nepal earlier in the day to keep up some pressure on the Socceroos. If Jordan beat Kuwait in four days’ time, they will have the chance to pip Australia to first place when they face each other on 15 June.
There was just the one game in Group D and it saw Uzbekistan win emphatically against Singapore 5-0, which sees the White Wolves keep pace with section leaders Saudi Arabia. They are now just two points behind the Green Falcons and the two sides meet on 15 June.
India defeated Bangladesh 2-0 to move into third in Group E. India’s talisman Sunil Chhhetri stole the show with two late second half goals, bringing his international goal tally to 74, taking him above Lionel Messi and one off entering the top 10. World Cup hosts Qatar edged Oman 1-0 thanks to captain Hassan Al-Haydos’ penalty to remain unbeaten in the group (seven wins and one draw).
Already-qualified Japan beat Tajikistan 4-1 earlier in the day in Group F. And despite conceding their first goal in a World Cup qualifier since September 2017 against Saudi Arabia, the Samurai Blue took their tally to an impressive 41 goals in seven games played in this campaign.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came in the very first match when Mongolia edged Kyrgyz Republic 1-0, a team 93 places above them in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Mijiddorj Oyunbaatar’s first-half header secured the shock win.
One of the other groups that is destined to go down to the wire is Group G. Vietnam (14 points) are hanging on to a two-point lead over the United Arab Emirates (12) after the former cruised past Indonesia 4-0 and the latter defeated Thailand 3-1.
The two-horse race will see a group winner crowned on 15 June in Dubai. Vietnam will be encouraged by their defensive record – five clean sheets in their last six qualifiers – while the UAE are scoring freely. Bert van Marwijk’s charges have now scored 17 goals in their last four matches in all competitions.