Asian World Cup Qualifying Wrap: March 28-29

30 03 2009

This weekend’s matches in Asia provided further proof that there is some high quality, dramatic football being played in Asia. The big, news making result from Asia this weekend came from Tehran where Iran gave up 2 goals in the last 12 minutes of the match to lose to Saudi Arabia 2-1 at Azadi Stadium.  Iran took the lead when Osasuna’s Masoud Shojaei’s well placed shot beat Saudi keeper Walleed Ali in the 57th minute to give Team Melli the 1-0 lead.

As the Iranians seemed content to sit on the lead the Saudis attacked and in the 78th minute Al-Hilal midfielder Naif Hazazi slotted a well placed through ball past Iran keeper Seyed Rahmati for the equalizer. Then in the 86th minute off a corner kick defender Osama Al-Harbi beat his marker and headed in the game winner into the far post side net.  The Green Falcons stunning victory puts them in 3rd place in Group 2 with 7 points.

As for Iran, they still have a chance but the loss made their path to South Africa a lot more difficult.  Team Melli is in 4th place with 6 points having only 1 win in their 5 final stage qualifying matches.  To make matters worse, depending on your perspective, the Iranian Football Federation fired Ali Daei as their coach.  The legendary player has struggled as head coach of Iran. Some questionable player choices and the loss to Saudi Arabia made Daei a victim of the ax.

The race for 3rd place in Group 1 just got more interesting as Uzbekistan moved into a 3-way tie with Qatar and Bahrain.  Uzbekistan rose above the Qatar defense for a crushing 4-0 home win.  Uzbeks were led by Farhod Tadjiev’s hat trick.  The forward used his head to score his 3 goals and put Borat’s most hated rival in 3rd place in Group 1 ahead of Bahrain & Qatar on goal differential.

Check out the highlights from the Iran-Saudi Arabia match:

Iran vs. Saudi Arabia Highlights

Here are the results & standings from this weekend’s Asian World Cup qualifiers:

Group 1
Uzbekistan 4 – 0 Qatar
UZB: Farhod Tadjiyev (34′, 45′+3, 53′) & Anvarjon Soliev (61′)

Japan 1 – 0 Bahrain
JAP: Shunsuke Nakamura (47′)

afc wcq group 11 Asian WC Qualifying Wrap: March 28 29

Group 2
Korea DPR (N. Korea) 2 – 0 United Arab Emirates
DPR: Pak Nam Chol (51′) & Mun In Guk (90′+3)

Iran 1 – 2 Saudi Arabia
IRN: Masoud Shojaei (57′)
KSA: Naif Hazazi (78′) & Osama Al Harbi (86′)

afc wcq group 21 Asian WC Qualifying Wrap: March 28 29