The final groups for Asian qualifying for World Cup 2010 will take place on Friday after Qatar and United Arab Emirates booked their spots in the last phase on Sunday.
Needing victory over Iraq in Dubai, Qatar got a 77th-minute goal from Al-Arabi striker Sayed Ali Bechir to send them through as runners-up in Group 1 along with Australia.
The UAE, meanwhile, held on by the skin of their teeth to advance to the final stage of qualifying, finishing as Group 5 runners-up despite falling 3-1 at home to Syria.
Jehad al-Hussein scored goals on 34 and 51 minute to put Syria 2-0 up, but they needed to win by at least three goals in order to advance. Ismail Matar put them up against it 10 minutes from time when he netted from the spot for the Emirates, and not even a late strike by Firas Al-Khatib could put Syria through as they finished up one goal short.
This “semi-final” round of qualifying had five groups of four teams each, with the top two in each group qualifying for the final round.
At the draw in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, the remaining 10 teams will be divided into two groups of five teams each. Between September 2008 and June 2009, each team will play eight games (four home and four away), and the top two teams in each group will qualify for World Cup 2010.
The two third-placed teams will then play a two-leg playoff to determine who will enter an identical playoff with the representative from Oceania. The Asia-Oceania playoff winner qualifies for the World Cup.
The draw will consist of four pots. In the first pot are the top two seeded teams, the second pot containing the next two teams, the third pot containing the next two teams, and the final pot containing the bottom four teams.
One team from each of the first three pots and two teams from Pot 4 will be in each group. The AFC will have a random draw to break a 4th-seed tie between Japan and Saudi Arabia.
ASIAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING POTS
Pot 1: Australia, South Korea
Pot 2: Iran, Japan/Saudi Arabia
Pot 3: Japan/Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Pot 4: Uzbekistan, North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Qatar
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