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Asian Qualifiers - Group D Preview: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan set for thriller; Yemen eye late charge against Palestine

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan go head to head for the top spot in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, while Palestine face Yemen with an eye on third place in the group.

Unbeaten Saudi Arabia can top the group with a draw on Tuesday, while Uzbekistan must avenge their defeat in the reverse fixture if they are to overtake their hosts on the final day of Group D.

Meanwhile, Yemen have an opportunity to leapfrog both Singapore and Palestine into third place should they defeat the latter at King Fahd International Stadium in the second Group D fixture.

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Saudi Arabia v Uzbekistan

Saudi Arabia sit at the top on 17 points from five wins and two draws, while Uzbekistan are hot on their trail with 15 points from five wins and two losses, one of which came at the Pakhtakor Central Stadium in Tashkent almost two years ago thanks to a Salem Al Dawsari’s last minute goal that gave his side a valuable 3-2 win away.

The two sides have a 100 percent record since the restart, with Saudi Arabia winning three from three, scoring 11 goals and conceding none, while Uzbekistan have won two from two, scoring six goals and conceding none as well.

Jaloliddin Masharipov’s 19th minute penalty against Yemen proved enough to take all three points for Uzbekistan in their most recent game, while Saudi Arabia left it late to register a 3-0 win against Singapore thanks to efforts from Al Dawsari, Fahad Al Muwallad, and Saleh Al Shehri inside the final 10 minutes.

Herve Renard’s men will guarantee progression if they beat Uzbekistan to the final round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, with the opposite also true for Vadim Abramov and his players, while a draw favours the Saudis. The two sides have met eight times previously, with Saudi Arabia winning five, Uzbekistan two, and one draw between them.

Saudi Arabia v Uzbekistan
Venue: King Saud University Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: 21:00 hours (UTC+3)

Palestine v Yemen

With both sides having been eliminated from FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification, Yemen do retain a chance of moving out of the bottom spot of Group D, and a win can see them compete in the final round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 instead of the qualifying playoff round as well as potentially pushing Singapore further down to the bottom of the group. A win for Palestine would consolidate their position in third place.

Palestine will look for a win or a draw to hold onto their third place, with their previous game helping them make the jump thanks to a 4-0 win against Singapore two weeks ago. In contrast, Yemen have been on a losing streak since the restart, with both Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan getting the better of them, although they could have avoided a loss against the latter who needed a penalty to get through.

The previous match between the two teams came in the reverse fixture back in November 2019, when Omar Al Dahi’s strike gave Yemen their first and only win of the Qualifiers so far.

Palestine v Yemen
Venue: King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: 21:00 hours (UTC+3)

*Polls end at 23:00 (UTC+8) on June 15.

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