ARAB NEWS: Japan recovers, UAE falter. 5 lessons learned from the latest Asian qualifiers in Qatar 2022
RIYADH – Tuesday’s Asian qualifiers in the 2022 World Cup saw a major win for Japan, which was previously in serious trouble. The UAE continues to struggle. These are five lessons learned from Matchday Four.
1. Japan’s win means three in Group B going for two automatic places
It is clear that Herve Renard, the Saudi Arabia coach, sat down in Riyadh to see the match between Japan and Australia at Saitama Stadium. He hoped that the Socceroos would get something out of the game rather than suffering a late 2-1 defeat.
If Japan had won, it would have been left with three points from the four games. However, assuming Saudi Arabia defeats China (as they did), it would be nine points behind Green Falcons.
It would have been difficult for the Samurai to reverse a deficit that large. The current top two positions would likely have remained as they are.
Japan was back in contention for automatic qualification after Aziz Behich’s late goal. Aziz had a difficult time at left-back. They looked better and earned the win. Now, what could have been an all-out race for the top two spots in the rankings is being contested with three teams — all due respect to Oman.
2. For the UAE
, hope is slipping away
The UAE’s draw with Iraq in Dubai at 2-2 was an incredible affair. It was hard to imagine the emotion at the end.
Brazilian-born Caio Caio CanedoCorrea hasn’t really made the difference for his adopted country, but he did put the Whites ahead in this game. But, after 93 minutes Dick Advocaat’s Iraq had a remarkable win. Ali Mabkhout was able to equalize. The video assistant referee was still able to determine what could have been an important winner for Bert van Marwijk.
After all the drama, excitement, and chaos has subsided, however, it is clear that the UAE only has three points from their first four games. If they are serious about a top-two finish, five points behind South Korea in 2nd is not where they want.
There is still time. If Van Marwijk leads the UAE to victory against South Korea in November then the race for second place will begin. Defeat will end any hope.
3. Oman and Lebanon riding high
Many people would not have predicted that Oman and Lebanon would finish in the third and fourth places in Groups A, B and C, respectively, before the final stage of qualification began.
The clock struck 45 minutes and Syria led Lebanon 1-0. But then, it all changed when the lowest-ranked team in this group set fire to their lead. Mohammed Kdouh scored both goals. Mohammed Kdouh scored both goals. The first was from close range and was used to complete a fluid move. The second was an outside shot that flew into top corner. Soony Saad’s low shot in the second period made it 3-1.
Omar Al-Somah scored one back, and Syria hit the bar with its last action. The final whistle sounded and you would have believed that Lebanon had won. The players gathered in a circle and danced, bounced, and celebrated with their supporters. Although there hasn’t been much to be cheerful about in Lebanon over the past few years, this game brought much-needed smiles and joy to all citizens.
Oman also showed great resilience in coming back from a goal down in order to defeat Vietnam. They are now in third place thanks to the goals scored.
4. Iraq have issues
It was a strange day in Iraq. Although the Lions of Mesopotamia had been within minutes of a huge win in Dubai, they were able to draw 2-2. Although they have three points from four games, it does not make their automatic qualification chances much better. However, third place is only two points away.
While the planned November return to Iraqi soil should be a positive sign, there are rumors that Advocaat is not allowed to select players from overseas by the Iraqi FA. True or false, Iraq needs all the support they can get in order to qualify for the World Cup. Although the results have not been satisfactory, there are still opportunities to improve. There is still time.
5. Syria contribute to an epic day of qualification action
Since the beginning of the century, this writer has been following Asian World Cup qualification. It is difficult to recall a day that was more entertaining. All 12 team scored, with a variety of impressive goals, VAR interventions and talking points.
Surprise! Syria 2: Lebanon was surprising. There was suspicion that Syria had underestimated the lowest-ranked team in the group. They did a tremendous service to the neutrals watching, as this game had everything. If anyone is still complaining about international breaks, they should be forced to watch 90 minutes full of amazing goals, scrambles and many missed opportunities.
Syria is now without a point in four games, and with no chance of automatic qualification, the loss leaves them empty-handed. If the defense improves, then a third-place finish at the same stage of qualification for the 2018 World Cup will be possible.
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