Koreas in silent, surreal stalemate as China drop points www.dawn.com
DOHA: North and South Korea played out a surreal 0-0 draw in front of an empty stadium and with no TV coverage while Marcello Lippi’s China dropped their first points as they were held to a surprise goalless draw in the Philippines and Australia smashed seven past Taiwan in Asian World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min captained South Korea for their first competitive men’s match in Pyongyang, but it was an odd affair with no fans or media at Kim Il Sung Stadium.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino was one of the few people in attendance for the rare game between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war because their 1950-53 civil conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
He was one of the lucky ones — South Korean fans will be unable to see the game until the delegation returns from Pyongyang with a recording of the game on DVD.
It was the third time in the countries’ last five meetings in World Cup qualifying that neither side has been able to find the back of the net, and it means both nations remain unbeaten in the second round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
South Korea lead the North Koreans on goal difference at the top of Group ‘H’ with both countries on seven points, one point more than Lebanon who defeated Sri Lanka 3-0.
On a busy night of qualifiers for Qatar 2022, China’s 0-0 draw with the Philippines meant the 2002 World Cup qualifiers dropped down to second in Group ‘A’ on seven points, two behind Syria, who beat Guam 4-0 to maintain their perfect start, with Omar Al Somah scoring a hat-trick.
Japan were made to work for their 3-0 win over Tajikistan on an artificial pitch in Dushanbe, with Takumi Minamino scoring twice early in the second half to steer Hajime Moriyasu’s side to their third straight victory.
The Japanese now lead Group ‘F’ by three points from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, who beat Mongolia 2-1 in Ulaanbaatar earlier in the day.
Iraq secured a second straight win in Group ‘C’ with a 4-0 thrashing of Cambodia — highlighted by Amjad Attwan’s belter which flew 25 yards and into the top corner past goalkeeper Keo Soksela — and are joint top of the standings with Bahrain, who claimed a surprise 1-0 win over Iran thanks to Mohammed Al Hardan’s second-half penalty.
AUSSIES PLUNDER SEVEN
Adam Taggart, Jackson Irvine and Harry Souttar scored two apiece as Australia thrashed Taiwan 7-1 in Kaoshiung to maintain their 100 percent record in Group ‘B’ and next month will face Jordan, who secured a 3-0 win over Nepal to remain in second place.
Taggart scored twice in seven first-half minutes — his first goals for Australia in six years, after injury threatened to derail his career.
The Suwon Samsung Bluewings forward nodded the opener from Rhyan Grant’s diagonal cross, and then had a simple finish after Brad Smith and Awer Mabil’s neat interchange on the left.
Chen Yi-wei pulled one back for the hosts before Irvine grabbed two goals of his own, the first from a cool half-volley and the second with a close-range header.
Souttar got the third Australian brace of the night, either side of Jamie Maclaren’s strike, to complete the demolition job.
Eldor Shomurodov scored twice in Uzbekistan’s 3-1 victory over Singapore, which moved the White Wolves into pole position in Group ‘D’, one point ahead of second-placed Saudi Arabia after the five-time World Cup qualifiers were held to a 0-0 draw in Palestine.
Indonesia’s woes continued with a 3-1 loss in Jakarta — their fourth defeat in a row — against Vietnam while Bert van Marwijk was handed his first competitive loss as head coach of the United Arab Emirates, with goals from Teerasil Dangda and Ekanit Panya earning Thailand a 2-1 win in Pathum Thani.
Thailand are now joint top of Group ‘G’ alongside the Vietnamese, with both teams on seven points, one more than the UAE.
India salvaged a 1-1 draw with Bangladesh thanks to Adil Khan’s header two minutes from fulltime in the countries’ Group ‘E’ meeting in Kolkata while Qatar opened up a four-point gap at the top following their 2-1 win over Oman thanks to goals from Akram Afif and Almoez Ali either side of the break.
In a fast-paced match, Akram struck in the second minute from close range but Rabia al-Alawi restored parity in the 65th minute with a dazzling solo run. Ali then struck from just inside the box in the 71st minute to give Qatar the winning goal.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2019