Wednesday Jun 29, 2022
Wednesday Jun 29, 2022

Japan, Australia in Group B for last round: Asian qualifying


Nepalnews
2021 Jul 01, 14:44, KUALA LUMPUR
Australia's players celebrate after a goal during the World Cup 2022 Group B qualifying soccer match between Jordan and Australia in Kuwait City, Kuwait, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Photo: AP

Japan and Australia have been grouped together along with Saudi Arabia, China, Oman and Vietnam in the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

South Korea, seeking a 10th consecutive World Cup appearance, is the only team from the eastern zone in Group A, which also includes Iran, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The 12 teams for the final round were seeded in pairs before being divided into two groups of six during the official draw conducted at the Asian Football Confederation headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

The final round of qualifying is set to kick off Sept. 2 and culminate on March 29, 2022, with each team playing five home and five away matches.

The winner and runner-up in each group will advance automatically to the World Cup and the third place teams will meet to determine who proceeds to an intercontinental playoff for one of the last places at Qatar.

Australia's Rhyan Grant , right, and Jordan's Salem Al Ajalin fight for the ball during the World Cup 2022 Group B qualifying soccer match between Jordan and Australia in Kuwait City, Kuwait, Tuesday, June 15, 2021.

Photo: AP
Australia's Rhyan Grant , right, and Jordan's Salem Al Ajalin fight for the ball during the World Cup 2022 Group B qualifying soccer match between Jordan and Australia in Kuwait City, Kuwait, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Photo: AP

Japan and Australia were the only teams to go through the disrupted second round with a perfect record of eight wins, although the Australians had to play all but one of their games away because of restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan is aiming for a seventh consecutive World Cup appearance, while Australia and Saudi Arabia have each qualified five times before. China, which overcame a slow start to place second in its group in the second round — advancing as one of the five best runners-up — hasn’t been to the World Cup stage since 2002, when the tournament was hosted in Asia for the first time.

Oman and Vietnam are trying to qualify for the first time.

Australia scored 28 goals and conceded two, playing its last four games from June 3-15 in Kuwait when the AFC decided to play each group at a central venue because of travel restrictions.

Australia coach Graham Arnold said the winning streak in the second round had “given the players a lot of belief and confidence.”

“We showed in that second phase a lot of resilience,” he said during a streamed interview following the draw. “Wherever we play, we expect to win every game.”

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