Saturday June 12, 2021
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying continued on Friday with another massive matchday as Round 2 heads towards its conclusion.
Much remains up for grabs heading into the final matches, with seven group winners advancing (excluding World Cup hosts Qatar), plus the best five runners-up.
Iraq and IR Iran both won as they joust in Group C ahead of an exciting showdown between the pair. It is a similar story in Group D for Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.
In a fascinating Group G, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates lead the charge. Meanwhile, Australia claimed their ticket to Round 3 with a comfortable win against Nepal.
FIFA.com rounds up all the major storylines from today's matches.
China PR made it three wins in their last three qualifiers with a resounding 5-0 victory over Maldives in Group A. Li Tie's team have now kept six clean sheets in their last seven Qatar 2022 qualifying matches. Star man Wu Lei has also shown himself to be reliable on the big stage as he now has seven goals this campaign. The Philippines defeated Guam 3-0 earlier in the day to move on to ten points in the group.
Australia were the only team to advance to Round 3 today. The Socceroos' 3-0 defeat of ten-man Nepal saw them continue their flawless Round 2 campaign and seal their spot at the top of Group B. Graham Arnold's Australia have now taken the lead within the first 15 minutes of play in all seven of their matches. Kuwait and Jordan closed out the day with a goalless draw in Kuwait City, which means the race for the runners-up spot in the group will be decided on the final day.
As anticipated, it will all come down to the final game for Group C leaders Iraq and challengers IR Iran. Iraq extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying to ten matches and held on to edge Hong Kong 1-0 thanks to an early Mohammad Qasim goal, while Team Melli thrashed Keisuke Honda's Cambodia 10-0, following up on IR Iran's 14-0 win over Cambodia back in October 2019. A ticket to the next round will be at stake when IR Iran and Iraq meet on 15 June.
It's a near-identical scenario in Group D as Saudi Arabia lead Uzbekistan by two points heading into the two teams' clash on the same day. Saudi Arabia left it late against Singapore, scoring three goals from the 84th-minute onward in a 3-0 win. Herve Renard's side are unbeaten in their last eight World Cup qualifiers and have kept six clean sheets in their last eight games as well. It will be a tall task for Uzbekistan, who edged Yemen 1-0 on Friday, but the White Wolves will be encouraged by the fact they have scored eight goals in their last three World Cup qualifiers without conceding.
There was just the one game in Group E, which saw Abdullah Fawaz inspire Oman with a brace in a 2-1 victory over Afghanistan. The win is hugely significant for Branko Ivankovic's side as it strengthens their chances of advancing to the next round as one of the five best runners-up.
Kyrgyz Republic made light work of Myanmar in an 8-1 victory in Osaka. Mirlan Murzaev scored a hat-trick to bring the White Falcons level on 10 points with Tajikistan in Group F. However, Tajikistan will be favoured to finish as runners-up as they welcome bottom-of-the-group Myanmar on the final day, while Kyrgyz Republic face group winners Japan.
Arguably one of the most fascinating sections is Group G, which will see current runners-up United Arab Emirates (15 points) host leaders Vietnam (17 points) on the final day. Vietnam remain unbeaten in the group thanks to Que Ngoc Hai's late penalty that saw them edge Malaysia 2-1 in Dubai, while Bert van Marwijk's UAE breezed past Indonesia 5-0.
UAE's Fabio Lima and Ali Mabkhout both scored braces and continued their fine form. Lima has scored a total of 23 goals in his last 21 matches for club and country, while Mabkhout has notched 25 goals in his last 15 international matches, during which time he has scored five hat-tricks. It's bound to be a fascinating conclusion to Round 2 in Asia.
United Arab Emirates-Vietnam