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Russia 2018/UAE 2019 Qualifiers - MD10: A look ahead

Published on: 28 March 2016

It is down to the final round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifiers, and it is now or never for the many teams still in contention.

Eight group winners will advance to the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, as well as straight to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates, along with the four best runners-up.

The other four runners-up will progress to the third round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup, along with all the third-placed teams and the four best fourth-placed teams.

Finally, the remaining sides will have to negotiate past two rounds of playoffs for one of the final eight spots in the AFC Asian Cup third qualifying round.

Here, the-afc.com looks at how things could unfold in the decisive clashes on Tuesday.

GROUP A
29 March: Palestine v Timor-Leste, United Arab Emirates v Saudi Arabia

Top spot will be up for grabs at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi when second-placed United Arab Emirates host leaders Saudi Arabia.

Nonetheless, the Green Falcons superior goal difference puts them firmly in the driving seat and they could even afford to lose, but anything more than a 3-0 triumph to the UAE would see them finish ahead of their opponents.

Elsewhere in the group, Palestine are guaranteed a third-place finish but entertain a Timor-Leste side that are still in with a chance of climbing off the foot of the table and pipping Malaysia to fourth spot.

GROUP B

29 March: Australia v Jordan, Tajikistan v Kyrgyzstan

The Sydney Football Stadium will be the venue for one of the most-enticing clashes of the round as leaders Australia host Jordan with a two-point lead to maintain.

Both teams enter the clash on the back of comprehensive victories in their previous outings, and the Jordanians will also take heart in the fact that they beat the Socceroos 2-0 in their previous meeting.

The other Group B match sees Tajikistan visiting third-placed Kyrgyzstan aware that a positive result could go a long way in sealing their spot as one of the four best fourth-placed teams.

GROUP C
29 March: China PR v Qatar, Maldives v Bhutan

With Qatar already assured of first place after seven straight wins, the focus will now be on second-placed China as they bid to finish as one of the four best runners-up.

However, it will not be easy for Gao Hongbo’s charges as they currently sit two spots outside the top four in the rankings, and host a Qatar side looking to finish the stage with a perfect record.

Hong Kong, who are not in action on Tuesday, are assured of finishing in third, while Maldives have all but sewn up fourth spot ahead of their home game against Bhutan.

GROUP D

29 March: India v Turkmenistan, Iran v Oman

With a superior goal difference by 15, Iran are almost certain to finish on top even if they lose their three-point lead with a defeat to second-placed Oman at the Azadi Stadium.

The Omanis are currently seventh in the rankings of the runners-up but, with only three points separating second from eighth, could make a final day surge by beating Iran.

The other Group D game sees Turkmenistan visit India at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with both sides guaranteed to finish third and fifth respectively.

GROUP E
29 March: Afghanistan v Singapore, Japan v Syria

In what has essentially been a two-horse race throughout the campaign, Japan can finish in first place as long as they avoid defeat at home to Syria, who they beat 3-0 in their previous encounter last October.

The Syrians, however, are presently the top-ranked runners-up and it will take a minor catastrophe for them to fail in advancing to the next stage of World Cup qualifiers and the 2019 Asian Cup.

Over at the netural venue of the Takhti Stadium in Tehran, Afghanistan have no way of climbing the table even if they third-placed Singapore, although that would give them a chance at being one of the four best fourth-placed sides and avoid the Asian Cup qualifying playoffs.

GROUP F

29 March: Iraq v Vietnam

Only one game will take place in Group F on Tuesday, with Thailand having done enough to wrap up top spot in Thursday’s 2-2 draw against Iraq.

The Iraqis currently hold a two-point lead in second place but will be aware that could slip away should they be beaten at home by third-placed Vietnam.

At the bottom of the table, Chinese Taipei have finished their campaign with no points and will be one of 16 teams heading for the qualifying playoffs.

GROUP G
29 March: Lebanon v Myanmar

The situation in Group G remains uncertain due to the present suspension imposed by FIFA on Kuwait, who currently occupy second spot but are ahead of Lebanon only on goal difference.

Lebanon can climb above them with anything more than a draw in their game with Myanmar, but – as things stand – it would still not be enough to see them finish as one of the four best runners-up.

Korea Republic have already wrapped up first place, while Myanmar are in no danger of losing fourth spot.

GROUP H

29 March: Philippines v DPR Korea, Uzbekistan v Bahrain

In arguably the most keenly-contested group, all four sides in action on Tuesday have something to play.

Uzbekistan lead the way and a victory over Bahrain would almost be enough to see them through, although their opponents are also fighting to maintain their two-point lead in third spot.

An Uzbekistan slip-up would open the door of DPR Korea to pip them to first place with a victory in Manila, but Philippines will be no pushovers as they hunt for the win that could be enough to send them automatically through to the third round of Asian Cup qualifying.

 

Source: the-afc.com

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