China exits, seven teams move up in World Cup qualifiers

June 15th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, June 15 (Xinhua) Seven more teams reached the final round of Asia’s 2010 World Cup qualifiers while China became the first to bow out of the competition. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea marched into the last 10 Saturday by winning their matches while Bahrain made it by drawing with Oman.

With Uzbekistan already qualifying, two more places remain to be decided coming weekend. Either Qatar or Asian champions Iraq will secure one of the two spots when they face off in a final Group 1 match in Dubai June 22.

Australia made it to the next phase thanks to a goal in each half from Blackburn Rovers midfielder Brett Emerton and a late strike from Harry Kewell, ensuring a 3-1 win over Qatar.

Iraq kept their World Cup hopes alive with a turn around 2-1 win over China in Tianjin.

In a must-win match, the Chinese fought hard and went ahead through Zhou Haibin, but Iraq found an equaliser close to halftime through Emad Mohammed. Nashat Akram then scored Iraq’s winner in the 66th minute.

South Korea reached the next stage, rallying late to beat Turkmenistan 3-1 when West Bromwich Albion midfielder Kim Do-heon scored in the space of three minutes after the score was tied at 1-1.

North Korea also went through with goals in either half by Hong Yong-jo to see off Jordan 2-0.

Saudi Arabia thrashed Singapore 3-0 to take the second slot in Group 4 and stay on course for their fifth World Cup. They were joined by Bahrain, whose surprise 1-1 draw with Oman also ensured Japan’s passage into round four.

Uzbekistan trounced winless Lebanon 3-0 in Tashkent to extend their 100 percent record of qualifying.

Iran reached the next phase with a 2-0 win over Syria in Damascus.

The United Arab Emirates look most likely to take the second Group 5 slot after their 3-2 win over Kuwait, needing only a draw to progress.

Japan punished Thailand 3-0 in Bangkok with a solid performance.

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