Podcast 33: The World Cup Qualifiers – Asia

The World Cup Asian qualifiers are nearing their end and on this week’s pod languagecaster takes a look at who is in the driving seat for places in South Africa next year.

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World Cup qualifiers are taking place around the world, and Asia is of course no different. 43 nations started the qualifying race last year but they have been reduced to 10 teams in what is now the fourth round of qualifying. It’s no surprise that the five top seeds in Asia, Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iran are in that ten. They are joined by teams from the second tier: Bahrain, Qatar, Uzbekistan, North Korea and United Arab Emirates.

The ten teams are now in two groups. The top two in each group automatically qualify, while the two third place teams must play each other home and away in October to decide who will play the representative from Oceania, New Zealand, again home and away in November.

So who are the front runners at the half way stage? The two Koreas top group B, with Iran comfortably in third. If Iran beat Saudi Arabia at home, their rivals for third spot, they will move into second place as North Korea’s visit to their southern cousins will mean either both teams or one team will drop points. It should be an exciting finish to group B. A draw between the Koreas and a win by Saudi Arabia will really put the cat among the pigeons. The UAE already look out of it with only one point from four games. My tips: South Korea and Iran to qualify automatically with North Korea going through to the play off.

In group A, it’s Australia who are on top of the pile. This is the first time they have taken part in the Asian qualifiers: previously they were part of Oceania. They have three wins and one draw. Their draw came against their biggest threat in the group Japan. Actually, there is quite a rivalry is building up between these two. Australia will be confident of qualifying in top spot as Japan has to play away in Oz before the group is decided. Japan is in second and also look comfortable. They will all but sew up qualification with a win against Bahrain this Saturday in Yokohama. That means the real fight is between Bahrain and Qatar for the third spot. They meet in a crucial game in Bahrain next week. Look for Australia and Japan to qualify with Bahrain sneaking into third and taking on North Korea in the qualifiers.

In 2002, the World Cup came to Asia being hosted by South Korea and Japan. South Korea progressed to the semi-finals, a best for an Asian team, and Japan also made it to the second round. Despite that bright spot, don’t look for an Asian team to set the competition in 2010 South Africa alight.


I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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