South Korea, Lebanon, Oman and Qatar completed the lineup in the final group stage of Asian qualifying for the 2014 soccer World Cup.
Goals from Lee Dong-Gook and Lee Keun-Ho six minutes apart in the second half led South Korea to a 2-0 win over Kuwait last night in Seoul that secured the top spot in Group B. Kuwait’s defeat also allowed Lebanon to advance as runner-up in the group even though it lost 4-2 to United Arab Emirates.
Oman beat Thailand 2-0 in Muscat to claim the Group D runner-up spot ahead of Frank Rijkaard’s Saudi Arabia, which lost 4-2 to group winner Australia. The Socceroos trailed 2-1 in Melbourne before scoring three times in four minutes during the second half. The turnaround allowed Oman to jump above Saudi Arabia into second place.
“Our early elimination is a shock,” Saudi Arabia forward Yasser Al Kahtani said on FIFA’s website. “Just as we were on course to win the game and qualify, we conceded three goals in four minutes to lose out. This was inexplicable, even if nothing is impossible in football. It is a painful ending for us all.”
Kasola Mohammed scored in the 86th minute as Qatar tied Group E winner Iran 2-2 in Tehran to secure the runner-up spot. Qatar finished one point ahead of Bahrain, which routed 10-man Indonesia 10-0 in Manama.
Yesterday’s qualifiers joined Australia, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Jordan and Uzbekistan in Asia’s fourth qualifying phase, where the teams will be split into two groups of five. The draw is scheduled for March 9 in Kuala Lumpur and matches will be played between June 3, 2012, and June 18, 2013, with the winners and runners-up from each group earning a berth at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The two third-place teams will enter a playoff with the winner advancing to a home-and-away playoff for a World Cup berth against South America’s fifth-ranked team.
WEDNESDAY’S ASIAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING RESULTS ============================================== GROUP A China 3-1 Jordan Iraq 7-1 Singapore GROUP B South Korea 2-0 Kuwait United Arab Emirates 4-2 Lebanon GROUP C Tajikistan 1-1 North Korea Japan 0-1 Uzbekistan GROUP D Australia 4-2 Saudi Arabia Oman 2-0 Thailand GROUP E Bahrain 10-0 Indonesia Iran 2-2 Qatar