AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Five Takeaways from Matchday One
Kuala Lumpur: As the Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar got underway on Thursday with six matches, there were upsets, debuts and managerial decisions to contemplate as the continent was gripped by international football fever.
With teams preparing to go again on Matchday Two a few days later, the-AFC.com looks at five takeaways from the opening round of matches.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Tot, Jahanbakhsh delighted with IR Iran’s win over Syria as others stumble
Tehran: Islamic Republic of Iran acting head coach Mario Tot and matchwinner Alireza Jahanbakhsh both revealed their delight at their side’s 1-0 win over Syria in their AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar clash at Azadi Stadium on Thursday.
With star striker Sardar Azmoun suspended and head coach Dragan Skočić unable to attend after returning a positive COVID-19 test, Team Melli did enough to continue a 48-year unbeaten run against the Qasioun Eagles, with Jahanbakhsh’s 56th-minute goal proving decisive.
It was a win made all the more valuable by results elsewhere in Group A, with Korea Republic held to a goalless draw by Iraq before United Arab Emirates and Lebanon also failed to find the net in the later match.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Advocaat lauds hard-working Iraq after Korea Republic stalemate
Seoul: Iraq coach Dick Advocaat praised his players after the Lions of Mesopotamia shut-down Korea Republic's star-filled attack to secure a valuable point in their goalless AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar opener at Seoul World Stadium on Thursday.
In a contest in the Korea Republic capital that saw chances at a premium, the hosts dominated possesion but failed to carve out meaningful opportunities against the visitors' organised and doughty defence marshalled by an impressive display from captain and centre-back Ahmed Ibrahim.
The 73-year-old tactician Advocaat, taking the helm of Iraq for the first time, was delighted at the display from his charges, in particular the way they shut down the likes of Korea Republic's overseas-based attackers such as Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min, Bordeaux's Hwang Ui-jo and Lee Jae-sung of Mainz 05.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: UAE's Van Marwijk remains optimistic, Hasek boosted by Lebanon's spirited performance
Dubai: Head coach Bert Van Marwijk was left to rue his team's result after United Arab Emirates opened their AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar Group A campaign with a draw against Lebanon on Thursday.
Despite playing at home, creating many scoring chances and dominating throughout the 90 minutes, UAE had to share the spoils with Lebanon after a 0-0 draw at the Zabeel Stadium.
The result means UAE are tied on one point with Iraq, Korea Republic and Lebanon with Islamic Republic of Iran the early leaders after defeating Syria 1-0.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Renard expected Saudi Arabia to bounce back, Vietnam's Park rues red card
Riyadh: Head coach Herve Renard said he had expected his Saudi Arabia side to stage a comeback in their opening AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar 2022 Group B tie against Vietnam on Thursday.
The hosts found themselves trailing to a superb Nguyen Quang Hai strike in the third minute but second half goals from Salem Al Dawsari, Yasser Al Shahrani and Saleh Al Shehri - following Do Duy Manh's sending off in the 54th minute - ensured Saudi Arabia triumphed in front of their fans at the King Saud University Stadium.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Arnold pleased by sizzling Australia, China PR’s Li looks ahead
Doha: Australia boss Graham Arnold couldn’t hide his joy after watching his side surge to an emphatic 3-0 win over China PR in their AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar clash at Khalifa International Stadium on Thursday.
Tested by an energetic Chinese side in the early stages, Australia went ahead through winger Awer Mabil in the 26th minute and never looked back, with Martin Boyle adding a second just two minutes later but before substitute Mitch Duke rounded out a comprehensive win with a third goal after half-time.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Brankovic hails Oman discipline, Yoshida laments Japan's lack of intensity
Osaka: Branko Ivankovic praised his players’ discipline after the Croatian coach steered Oman to a surprise 1-0 win over Japan in their AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar Group B clash at the Suita Stadium on Thursday.
Issam Al Sabhi scored with only two minutes remaining to earn the West Asians a famous victory as Ivankovic’s side went toe-to-toe with the six-time FIFA World Cup qualifiers in rain-soaked Osaka.