SPORTS China among 12 teams marching into final round of Asian Qualifiers


China among 12 teams marching into final round of Asian Qualifiers


21:58, June 16, 2021

On a frantic day of action across Asia, with 14 matches played on Tuesday, 12 teams ended up marching into the final round of 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian zone qualifiers.

The final round of the Asian qualifying tournament will start in September with 12 teams: Syria, Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, China, Oman, Iraq, Vietnam, and Lebanon.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE topped their respective groups to ease into the final round. Iraq, Oman, China, Vietnam, and Lebanon also made it through after finishing in second place.

Syria, Japan, South Korea and Australia had already clinched their spots in the deciding round, from which four countries will advance to next year's tournament in Qatar.

Qatar, who topped Group E, will not play in the final phase as they qualify automatically as hosts.

Players of Team China pose for a photo before their game with Syria at the FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers in Sharjah, the UAE, June 15, 2021. (Photo: CFP)

Group A: China 3-1 Syria

Zhang Xizhe, Wu Lei, and Zhang Yuning scored as Team China clinched a 3-1 victory over Syria.

"Only by playing against strong teams can we really improve ourselves," China coach Li Tie told a post-match press conference.

"It was not an easy game. I was pleased with all the players for their spirit and tenacity. They controlled the game most of the time and created many chances. I would have been happier if it had been 2-0," Li said, adding that the win was a gift to the players injured in previous matches and to all the fans.

"Syria is a strong team and we didn't play at such a high level for quite a long time," Li added. "We must play more high-quality matches."

Midfielder Zhang Xizhe, who opened the scoring with a diagonal shot in the 42nd minute, was named the player of the match. "We played a very good game," said Zhang.

In Group B, already-qualified Australia, with the only goal from Harry Souttar, edged Jordan 1-0 to record their eighth consecutive win in the second phase.

Sardar Azmoun (L) of Iran scores a goal to secure Iran's 1-0 victory over Iraq during the FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers match in Muharraq, Bahrain, June 15, 2021. (Photo: CFP)

Group C: Iran 1-0 Iraq, Bahrain 4-0 Hong Kong of China

Iran pipped Iraq 1-0 in Bahrain to top Group C, while the UAE edged Vietnam 3-2 in their final Group G match in Dubai on Tuesday.

To qualify, both Iran and the UAE needed to topple the teams that went into the final round of matches leading their groups. They did it in contrasting styles.

Iran hung on to their lead to take their tally to 18 points from eight matches, while Iraq finished with 17 points.

Bahrain staged a second-half show to conclude their match with a comfortable 4-0 win over Hong Kong of China on Tuesday.

The two sides had played out a 0-0 tie in their previous encounter. In Tuesday's game, after a goalless first half, Bahrain established a 2-0 lead just 10 minutes into the second half, before adding another two in the 70th and 88th minutes.

Ado Onaiwu (C) of Japan scores a goal against Kyrgyzstan during their FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers match in Osaka, Japan, June 15, 2021. (Photo: CFP)

In Group D, Salman al-Faraj scored a brace as Saudi Arabia thrashed Uzbekistan 3-0 clinching the top spot.

An opening goal from Mohammed Al-Ghafri and a brace from Khalid Al-Hajri secured Oman's 3-0 victory over Bangladesh in Group E.

A hat trick in six minutes by Ado Onaiwu highlighted Japan's 5-1 victory over Kyrgyzstan in Group F.

In Group G, Vietnam wasted their two-point advantage at the top as they were beaten by the Emiratis with Ali Salmeen and Ali Mabkhout finding the net in the first half.

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