Saudi Arabia will go to World Cup, Syria surges to playoff spot

War-divided Syrians unite over football spot in Asian play-offs

Saudi Arabia will go to World Cup, Syria surges to playoff spot

Saudi Arabia's national soccer team has secured qualification to next year's World Cup in Russian Federation beating Japan 1-0 in their last AFC Round 3 Group B match on Tuesday at Jeddah on Tuesday.

To book a spot in Russian Federation, the Socceroos need to defeat Thailand in Melbourne on Tuesday and hope Japan don't lose to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah - with the latter on the same amount of points but holding a plus-2 goal difference advantage.

The victor of that will go on to battle North and Central America's fourth- placed qualifier in November for a spot at the global showpiece.

Halilhozic made four changes to the team that started against Australia, picking veteran midfielder Keisuke Honda despite knowing he lacked match fitness having not played a great deal since arriving at Mexican club Pachuca. "It is too early to talk about Australia, but we know it will be a tough game".

But the stage to which the Syrian footballers have reached in the recent games is against all odds, with the difficulty of the training and the lack of good atmosphere with their country being ripped by a seven-year war.

Iran, which clinched qualification for the World Cup in June, is a regional political ally of Syria that has provided crucial political and military support to shore up Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in the war.

Saudi Arabia captain Osama Hawsawi.

Korea advances to World Cup after playing Uzbekistan to 0-0 draw

The result pushed Australia into third in Group B and a place in the play-offs, where they will meet Syria.

"I didn't have any malicious intention when I said it", said Kim. "I'm a man who likes to play an attacking football. I have survived worse than this".

The hopes of the United Arab Emirates evaporated with a 1-0 loss to Iraq thanks to Aymen Hussein's goal while China's chances of appearing at the World Cup went the same way despite a 2-1 win over Qatar. This gives the team a direct ticket to the Russian championship, the gap from the closest pursuers from the South Korean team is seven points. Syria collected 13 points, edging out Uzbekistan on goal difference.

South Korea responded with another goalless stalemate away to Uzbekistan on Tuesday.

On last week's draw with Iran, Shin told reporters in Tashkent: "We're in a hard situation, but we'll beef up our mental strength and will win". "We have work to do, but we have nine months to prepare for the World Cup".

South Korea coach Shin Tae Yong promised a strong showing at next year's World Cup Finals, even as fans expressed fears for their prospects after they struggled to qualify for the tournament. Thailand finished last in the group with two points.

Al-Khatib, who played for Kuwaiti team Qadsia and later Al-Arabi, will be returning to his mother club of Al-Karamah in the central city of Homs. "People will find out about South Korea's true football power at the World Cup".

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