Suzhou: More than 18 months since the last ball was kicked in Group A of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, the competition will resume on May 30 as the five sides get set to continue their campaigns in the Chinese city of Suzhou.
Syria currently lead the way with a hugely impressive five wins from five and they start as clear favourites to progress to the third round of qualifying, while the pressure is on hosts China PR who sit eight points back, level with the Philippines.
The Maldives still have aspirations of a top-two finish and Guam are seeking their first points of the campaign. Ahead of the opening game between China and Guam on Sunday, the-AFC.com takes a closer look at Group A.
Kuwait: The long wait is finally over, and Asia’s top men’s national teams are soon to resume their respective bids to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
It has been 18 long months since a ball was kicked in Group B – featuring, Australia, Kuwait, Jordan, Nepal and Chinese Taipei – and with a wait like that, one could be forgiven for needing a refresher course before the action resumes.
But fear not, the-AFC.com is here to bring you all need to know about the finely poised group, including a run-down on the venues and how the teams currently stand, plus we pick out a key man from each of the five sides.
Japan's Moriyasu focused on Myanmar game as Asian Qualifiers loom
Tokyo: Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu is training his focus on the Samurai Blue’s meeting with Myanmar on Friday as the four-time AFC Asian Cup winners look to secure their place in the next phase of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Victory over Antoine Hey’s side will take the Japanese into the next round by guaranteeing their status as Group F winners with two games remaining and maintain their perfect record in the second round of the Asian Qualifiers.
Japan have won their first five games in the Asian Qualifiers and a win on Friday would also secure Moriyasu’s side a berth at the Finals of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Group A: Draw leaves Al Hidd, Al Wahda's AFC Cup hopes in the balance
Manama: Goals at either side of the halftime break saw Bahrain’s Al Hidd and Syria’s Al Wahda play out a 1-1 draw at Sheikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Stadium on Matchday Two of the 2021 AFC Cup Group A on Monday.
A goalless draw between Al Wahda and Al Ahed on Friday meant the three-team group remains open for all possibilities going into the final matchday, with Al Hidd needing to avoid defeat if they are to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Group B: Khaled Salem hat-trick helps Balata Center edge Muharraq Club in AFC Cup thriller
Amman: A Khaled Salem hat-trick helped Palestine’s Balata Center record their first-ever AFC Cup win, beating Bahrain’s Muharraq Club 3-2 on Matchday Two of Group B action on Monday.
Going into the match, Balata Center knew that only victory would keep their hopes of qualification to the next round on their debut alive, while Muharraq needed a win and other results to go their way to secure progress with a game to spare.
Group C: Late blitz steers Kuwait SC past Al Ama’ari Center in AFC Cup entertainer
Amman: Kuwait SC took three valuable points from Palestine’s Al Ama’ari Center with an emphatic 4-1 win in Group C of the 2021 AFC Cup on Monday.
Against the run of play, Al Ama’ari Center opened the scoring 18 minutes into the match thanks to Abdulhamid Abuhabib, who tapped in Sameh Maraaba’s initial weak shot from close range after a fast break that also included Mohamed Maraaba in the build up.