Japan Wins to Open Final Asian World Cup Qualifying; Iraq Draws

Japan opened Asia’s final group qualifying stage for the 2014 World Cup with a 3-0 win over Oman as it aims for a fifth straight appearance at soccer’s four- yearly championship.

Keisuke Honda, Ryoichi Maeda and Shinji Okazaki scored in Saitama yesterday for Asian champion Japan, while Iraq and Jordan drew 1-1 in the other Group B game. The five-team pool also includes Australia, which visits Oman on June 8.

Iran and Qatar opened Group A with 1-0 road wins against Uzbekistan and Lebanon respectively. Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov said his team should have been awarded a goal in the second half when a shot from Odil Ahmedov crossed the line.

“We scored a goal in the second half, but the referees didn’t see it,” Abramov said in comments on the Asian Football Confederation’s website. “Iran had two chances and won it.”

Asia’s 10 remaining teams have a yearlong phase of home- and-away games, with the winners and runners-up from each group taking the region’s four direct berths at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The third-place teams will playoff for the right to take on South America’s fifth-ranked nation over two matches for another spot.

Colombia moved into fifth place in the nine-team South American standings yesterday as James Rodriguez scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Peru. The top four teams gain World Cup berths alongside Brazil, which is guaranteed a spot as host.

Argentina leads the group with 10 points after beating Ecuador 4-0 two days ago. Second-place Chile defeated Bolivia 2-0 and Venezuela tied 1-1 at Uruguay.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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