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Koreas finish all square as Aussies start with a win

SoccerNews in World Cup 11 Sep 2008

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Bitter rivals North Korea and South Korea fought out a 1-1 draw in the latest round of final Asian 2010 World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday while Australia got their campaign off to a winning start.

The Aussies handed Uzbekistan a 1-0 defeat in Tashkent thanks to a rare international goal from Scott Chipperfield – playing only his second international in 19 months – as they bid to reach their second successive finals.

The Uzbeks hopes of reaching the finals for the first time look remote after two successive defeats as do those of the UAE – they lost to North Korea in their opening match at the weekend – after they let a 1-0 lead slip, ending up losing 2-1 to Asian giants Saudi Arabia.

The other match ended 1-1 between a 10-man Bahrain and Qatar, who also missed a penalty.

The Korean neighbours fought out a tedious affair played in the neutral city of Shanghai, with only about 500 fans turning up at the Hongkou Stadium.

They saw North Korean Hong Yong-Jo convert a penalty in the 63rd minute but the South's Ki Sung-Yeung scored five minutes later to salvage the draw.

This was the fourth draw between the rivals in 2008 alone, although the North will be disappointed not to have come away with a victory.

This was the South's first game in this final qualification phase.

“We were so close to getting the win,” said North Korean head coach Kim Jong-Hun. “But our players did their best. We have played one more game and we were a bit more tired than the South Koreans.”

South Korean coach Huh Jung-Moo said he wasn't pleased with the result. “There was so much pressure on us to win this game and that affected our team tonight,” he said, referring to the rivalry between the teams and the countries.

“But we still have games left and I believe we're good enough to reach the World Cup.”

North Korea next visit Iran, on October 15. On the same day the South will host the United Arab Emirates in Seoul.

The Uzbeks' survival now hinges on their crucial away match against Japan in Saitama on October 15, while the Australians' next assignment is a home match against Qatar in Brisbane on the same night.

Coach Pim Verbeek was delighted with the commitment of his Australian players in the intimidating atmosphere of the Pakhtakor stadium.

“Football-wise we have played better games, but if you look for the commitment and attitude of the boys and the way they worked hard for each other, I think they did a great job,” Verbeek said.

The Saudi's result saw them go top of Group B alongside North Korea with four points, while UAE are at the bottom of the table, yet to open their account.

A delighted Saudi captain Yasser Al Kahtani, who came in as a substitute in the 46th minute, said: “This is a wonderful result for us, especially after the draw against Iran. It was a superb performance from the team to come back from one goal behind.

“The UAE were playing really well and putting us under a lot of pressure.”

Qatar, who made other teams in Asia sit up and take notice during their 3-0 demolition of Uzbekistan last Saturday, failed to take advantage of several chances, including a penalty, to allow the Bahrainis take a valuable point from their away match.

Sebastien Soria put Qatar ahead as early as the fifth minute after receiving a long pass from deep, but the Uruguay-born striker, who has shouldered most of Qatar's burden in the forwardline throughout the qualifying phases, failed to put away a penalty later in the first half.

Bahrain were dealt a huge blow when Abdulla Marzooqi was sent off in the first session with his second yellow card of the match, but Qatar failed to nail home the numerical advantage they had.

And Bahrain made them pay when Abdulla Baba Fatadi slotted the ball home from the edge of the penalty area after receiving a pass from Nigerian-born Jaycee John.

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