Kuala Lumpur: February 1, which also heralds the commencement of the Year of the Tiger, marks the 500-day countdown to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ with fans eagerly awaiting the continental showpiece.
Twelve teams, together with hosts China PR, have already qualified for the tournament which is to be played from June 16 to July 16, 2023.
Eleven berths remain up for grabs with 24 teams set to jostle for the available places come June this year.
Group A: IR Iran edge UAE to maintain tight grip on top spot
Tehran: Ten-man Islamic Republic of Iran extended their unbeaten run in the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar to eight matches with a 1-0 home win over the UAE in Group A on Tuesday.
The home side had already qualified to Qatar 2022 last week after beating Iraq 1-0, but they still fielded a full strength side and produced another win and a clean sheet despite their numerical disadvantage for over 40 minutes.
Muscat: Oman came from behind twice to hold Australia 2-2 in Group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar on Tuesday.
It was a result neither side wanted, with Australia’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification hopes suffering a blow while third place - which would have meant a playoff spot - is now out of reach for Oman.
With two matches remaining, Australia are four points behind leaders Saudi Arabia, who lost 2-0 to Korea Republic earlier on Tuesday, with the East Asians three ahead of the Socceroos.
Group B: Vietnam cruise past China PR for first win
Hanoi: Vietnam secured a historic first-ever victory over China PR as goals from Ho Tan Tai and Nguyen Tien Linh sealed a 3-1 win in Group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar on Tuesday that also ended any slim hopes the Chinese had of finishing third.
Tan Tai opened the scoring inside 10 minutes at the My Dinh Stadium and Tien Linh had the home support in dreamland by doubling their advantage just seven minutes later. Substitute Phan Van Duc wrapped up a famous win by smashing home a third from distance in the 76th minute before Wu Xi grabbed a consolation for China PR deep into added time.
The victory meant Vietnam also picked up their maiden points in the final round of the AFC Asian Qualifiers, and, while they remain bottom of the standings, the Golden Star Warriors are now just two points adrift of the Chinese with two games to play.
Group B: Japan defeat Saudi Arabia to stay firmly on track
Saitama: Junya Ito set up one and scored the other as Japan handed Saudi Arabia a 2-0 defeat at Saitama Stadium in Group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar on Tuesday to move the Samurai Blue to within a point of Herve Renard’s side at the top of the standings.
Ito played in Takumi Minamino as he opened the scoring for Hajime Moriyasu’s side in the 32nd minute before netting with a spectacular drive into the top corner five minutes into the second half to earn Japan a deserved victory.
Trio confident of sealing FIFA Women’s World Cup ticket
Navi Mumbai: Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam will have no margin for error when they clash in a round robin playoff to determine the fifth team to earn an automatic slot to the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023.
The three losing AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022™ quarter-finalists square off with the first fixture pitting Thailand against Vietnam on Wednesday with the Thais playing Chinese Taipei two days later. The playoff will conclude with Chinese Taipei facing Vietnam on Sunday.