AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Japan confident as Oman loom
Osaka: Hajime Moriyasu will look to embrace the positives of Japan’s run to the semi-finals at the Olympic Games as he leads the Samurai Blue into their opening game of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar on Thursday against Oman at Suita City Football Stadium.
Moriyasu, who serves as both the Olympic and senior men’s national team coach, led the country’s U24 squad to fourth place at Tokyo 2020 after guiding the Samurai Blue into the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar with a perfect record.
The Japanese won all eight of their games in Group F to advance and the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima boss is now looking to successfully merge his two squads as the country pushes for a seventh straight FIFA World Cup qualification.
Kuala Lumpur: Ahead of the start of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar, the-AFC.com shines the spotlight on some of the key statistics involving the participating sides.
There will be 12 teams competing for four direct tickets to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and we present some of the key facts and figures that give further colour and context to the campaigns that are set to play out on the Road to Qatar.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Korea Republic braced for tough Iraq
Seoul: Despite being led by an in-form Son Heung-min, Korea Republic must not take opponents Iraq, under newly appointed coach Dick Advocaat, for granted in their AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar opener at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday.
Korea Republic have eased through the AFC Asian Qualifiers so far, winning Group H with five wins and a draw, scoring 22 and conceding just once, but the competition is set to step up a gear in a Group A that features some difficult encounters, not least Thursday's Matchday One opponents Iraq.
Veteran Dutch coach Advocaat, 73, was appointed to the helm at the beginning of August and, as such, will bring with him a wealth of experience and a new-look and approach to a team that is already bristling with talent. Korea Republic coach Paulo Bento is well-aware of the challenge of the unknown that his charges face.
Syria's Mahrous ready for second chance at FIFA World Cup qualification
Tehran: Nizar Mahrous was only 22 when he played in the Asian Qualifiers for the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico. He helped Syria reach the final stage of that preliminary competition only for a 3-1 defeat to Iraq in their final match to squash their dream of a debut appearance at the global Finals.
Today, more than 35 years on, Mahrous is back with the Qasioun Eagles, having been appointed national team coach prior to the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar. Ahead lies an opportunity to make up for that disappointment all those years ago and fulfil the nation’s long-awaited dream of reaching the big stage.
Que: All Vietnamese are dreaming of the FIFA World Cup
Riyadh: Vietnamese eyes will be on their opening game against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Thursday as the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicks off. It will be the sides’ third meeting on the qualifying scene, but marks Vietnam's first-ever appearance at this decisive stage.
Indeed, the Southeast Asians had long been the pushovers in Asian qualifying, having invariably suffered early exits over the past two decades.
Under Korea Republic's Park Hang-seo, however, the Golden Star Warriors have emerged a different side in this campaign, powering through the second round from a group which also featured United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.