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China, South Korea through as five reach Asian Cup finals

October 12, 2006 12:36 IST
China and South Korea were among five teams to confirm their places at next year's Asian Cup finals on a hectic night of qualifying on Wednesday.

Iran, Iraq and Oman also booked their trips to next year's tournament to be held in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam while dominant Australia made sure of their seeding for the event by confirming top spot in Group D.

China qualified for the finals for a ninth consecutive time after a 2-0 victory over Palestine in Amman. The 2004 runners-up progressed after goals in each half from Mao Jianqing and Sun Xiang.

They were matched at the top in Group E by Iraq, who mauled Singapore 4-2 in a match switched to the United Arab Emirates.

Younis Mahmoud scored two of the Iraqi goals to put his side level with the Chinese on 10 points with the duo playing each other for the right to top the group on Nov. 15.

Defending champions Japan beat India 3-0 in their penultimate Group A qualifier in Bangalore with Gamba Osaka's Ryuji Bando scoring twice and Kengo Nakamura adding a third after the break.

Saudi Arabia maintained their dominance of the group with a fifth straight win against Yemen in Jeddah, a late double from Issa Al Mahyani seeing them to a 5-0 rout at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium.

In Group B, South Korea were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Syria while Bayern Munich's Ali Karimi scored twice in Iran's 2-0 away victory over Taiwan. Both teams are on 11 points

from five games with Syria third on five points.

South Korea failed to fire with Pim Verbeek's men taking an eighth-minute lead through Cho Jae-jin before Syria equalised nine minutes later with a goal from captain Maher Al Sayed.


Uzbekistan all but assured their place in the finals with a 4-0 hammering of Bangladesh in Dhaka with goals from Ilyas Zeytullaev, Ulugbek Bakaev, Server Djeparov and a Maksim Shatskikh penalty.

The win means third-placed Hong Kong, who were beaten 2-0 in Doha by table-topping Qatar, must beat Bangladesh by a huge score in their final match next month and hope the Uzbekis lose at home to Qatar.

John Aloisi and Marco Bresciano scored against Bahrain to help Australia confirm top place in Group D with a 2-0 victory in Sydney and earn a seeding for the finals.

The fate of the second place in the group rests on next month's clash between Bahrain and Kuwait in Manama, with Bahrain needing a victory to ensure progress. A point would be good enough for Kuwait.

And Oman booked a second straight appearance at the finals by leapfrogging the United Arab Emirates with a 2-1 victory in Muscat. First-half goals from Hassan Modhafar and Ismail Al Ajmi secured the win.

Jordan beat Pakistan 3-0 in Lahore and could tie the UAE on points with victory against Oman next month but the UAE would progress anyway by virtue of the record between the two teams.

Nazvi Careem
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