Taremi on target as Iran become first Asian team to reach Qatar World Cup

Published January 29, 2022
DUBAI: United Arab Emirates’ Tahnoon Al-Zaabi (L) battles for the ball with Syria’s Mahmood Al Baher during their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Al-Maktoum Stadium.—Reuters
DUBAI: United Arab Emirates’ Tahnoon Al-Zaabi (L) battles for the ball with Syria’s Mahmood Al Baher during their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Al-Maktoum Stadium.—Reuters

DOHA: Iran became the first team from Asia to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar with a 1-0 win over Iraq in Tehran on Thursday.

Medhi Taremi’s goal early in the second half at the Azadi Stadium secured a third straight World Cup appearance for Dragan Skocic’s Iran with three Group ‘A’ games still remaining.

Porto forward Taremi, who had been recalled to the squad after missing November’s games following a fall-out with Skocic, picked up Alireza Jahanbaksh’s through ball from deep before sending in a right-footed shot from inside the box after 48 minutes.

The win delivers qualification for a third consecutive World Cup finals for the Iranians, after appearances in Brazil and Russia, and the country’s sixth in total.

Iran have 19 points from seven games, two ahead of South Korea, who are within touching distance of a 10th successive World Cup appearance after a 1-0 win over Lebanon.

With Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min out injured, replacement forward Cho Gue-song scored from close range in Sidon just before halftime. South Korea can secure qualification with a win against Syria on Tuesday.

United Arab Emirates stayed eight points behind in third with a 2-0 win over bottom team Syria thanks to goals in each half from Caio Canedo and Yahya Al-Ghassani.

The top two teams from each group will automatically qualify. The third-placed teams will advance to a playoff.

In Group ‘B’, Saudi Arabia remain in pole position thanks to a 1-0 win over Oman in Jeddah that ensured Herve Renard’s side cannot finish outside the top three in the standings.

Firas Al Buraikan bundled the ball over the line from close range three minutes into the second half when goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rashidi parried Sultan Al Ghannam’s ball across the face of goal.

The Saudis move onto 19 points, four clear of second-placed Japan and a further point ahead of Australia as Renard’s side guaranteed themselves the minimum of a place in the playoff rounds.

Australia thrashed Vietnam 4-0 in Melbourne while Japan downed a poor China side 2-0 at Saitama Stadium.

Jamie Maclaren, Tom Rogic, Craig Goodwin and Riley McGree all scored for Australia, who played without coach Graham Arnold, who is isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.

Yuya Osako converted from the penalty spot and Junya Ito added the other for Japan as China, who were playing their first game under new manager Li Xiaopeng, saw their slim hopes of reaching the World Cup all but ended.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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