Japan and South Korea stumble on road to 2018 World Cup

South Korea head coach Uli Stielike reacts to a play during a World Cup qualifying match against Qatar at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha
Qatar keep World Cup hopes alive

15 June, 2017

The Korean national football team reacts after allowing a goal to Qatar during the final qualification match for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday.

Finishing third would only be enough to secure a spot in the play-offs.

Having drawn a blank on trips to Iran, Malaysia - to play Syria - and China, Stielike was visibly irked by the visitors' laboured early attempts to test Saad Al Sheeb, Lee Jae-sung's curler finally drawing a first notable save after 21 minutes.

The Qatar players wore white shirts showing a profile portrait of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as they prepared for a crucial World Cup qualifier against South Korea in Doha on Tuesday.

Only the top two from the two six-team groups automatically qualify for the World Cup in Russian Federation.

In a night of late equalisers, the United Arab Emirates were the beneficiaries of a stoppage-time strike which at least postponed their elimination.

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Thailand, which is in last place in Group B, got its goal from Mongkol Kraisorn.

With four victories, three losses and a draw, South Korea is only a point ahead of Uzbekistan, and will play its two remaining matches against the toughest opponents in the group.

Goals from South Korea's Ki Sung-Yueng and Hwang Hee-Chan in the 62nd and 69th minute seemed to have secured South Korea a valuable point in their attempt to get to Russian Federation, but fine work from Brazilian-born Rodrigo Tabata set up Al-Haydos for a 74th-minute victor.

Even after Tuesday's impressive victory, secured by Hasan Al Haydos's victor 16 minutes from time, Qatar need to make up three points on third-placed Uzbekistan in Group A with only two matches remaining. He opened the scoring with a free-kick after 25 minutes and Akram Afif added a second six minutes after the restart.

If Qatar fails in its bid, it would become the first World Cup host nation not to have previously qualified for an edition of soccer's global showpiece.

Xiao Zhi then put China temporarily ahead in the 75th.

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