Jeddah: Asia’s two most successful national teams Saudi Arabia and Japan clash at King Abdullah Sport City Stadium on Thursday on Matchday Three of the Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Group B.
Only Korea Republic (10) have more FIFA World Cup appearances than Japan (6) and Saudi Arabia (5), while the two sides have seven AFC Asian Cup titles between them, a record four for the Samurai Blue and three for the Green Falcons.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Facts and Stats
Kuala Lumpur: Matchdays Three and Four of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar promise to be thrilling affairs as the 12 teams look to enhance their hopes of reaching the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Finals.
Some will head into the next round of matches boosted by their recent form while others will need to up their game if they are to stay in the race for the four automatic Qatar 2022 spots.
Join the-AFC.com as we take a look at the facts and stats the teams will have to contend with going into Matchday Three.
AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar: How Group B stands
Kuala Lumpur: The AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar moves on to its Matchday Three and Four fixtures with the next set of games taking place on October 7 and 12 and the six sides in Group B returning for more vital match-ups.
A huge shock on Matchday One saw Oman defeat Japan in Osaka to gain the best possible start, while powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Australia began with two wins from two. China PR and Vietnam, meanwhile, both suffered back-to-back defeats.
Leading the way at present is Graham Arnold's Australia, who got off to a flying start as goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitchell Duke secured a comfortable 3-0 win over China in Doha, before Rhyan Grant's first international goal edged a narrow 1-0 victory against Vietnam in Hanoi.
AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar: How Group A stands
Kuala Lumpur: With the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar returning on October 7 for another crucial pair of double-headers, the-AFC.com brings you up to speed with how things look in Group A.
After two rounds of fixtures, the heavyweights of Islamic Republic of Iran and Korea Republic have already stamped their authority on the group, with the Iranians leading the way following back-to-back wins over Syria and Iraq, and the Koreans two points back after drawing against Iraq and beating Lebanon.
Dragan Skocic's Iran have been arguably the most impressive side in the AFC Asian Qualifiers to date, with Alireza Jahanbakhsh rediscovering his mojo since returning to the Eredivisie to join Feyenoord. The former Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder netted the only goal on Matchday One as his side edged Syria before opening the scoring in an emphatic 3-0 win over neighbours Iraq.
Son, Taremi, Hwang and Iwabuchi: Vote for your AFC International Player of the Week
Kuala Lumpurs: Goals, goals and more goals were the topic of discussion this week as Asia’s stars couldn’t stop scoring in Europe’s biggest and best competitions.
Jasur Yakhshiboev lived out a boyhood dream, Hwang Hee-chan announced himself as a Premier League star, while names like Taremi, Kerr, Iwabuchi and Kumagai all found the net for their respective clubs.
In a week where twice as many players could have made the cut, study our 10 nominees – based on matches played between September 28 and October 4 - and don’t forget to cast your vote.