Southeast Asia’s five hopefuls for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup are on the verge of being eliminated after all suffered defeats in qualifying on Friday.
Malaysia, the best placed of the quintet, were looking to build on an impressive 1-1 draw against Bahrain in the return encounter at the Bahrain National Stadium.
But despite showing a couple of positive signs, Harimau Malaya ultimately fell to a 1-0 defeat thanks to Ismail Abdul-Latif’s 72nd-minute winner.
The result leaves them third in Group D on four points, five away from the second automatic qualifying spot but they remain in the running to make it as the best third-placed team.
Over in Group B, Thailand are still looking for their first points after being handed a crushing 3-0 loss by Iran at the Rajamangala Stadium.
Ashkan Dejagah put the visitors ahead in the 28th minute with a perfectly-placed shot from outside the box, before Reza Ghoochannejhad capitalized on some poor defending to lift the ball over the onrushing Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool and make it 2-0.
The War Elephants’ disappointing day worsened in injury-time when Phuwadol Suwannachart received a straight red, and moments later, Alireza Jahanbaksh added a third to round off the scoring for Iran.
Despite a valiant effort, Indonesia were unable to match the heroics in their last game against Group C opponents China as they were beaten 1-0 at the Shaanxi Province Stadium.
While they had done well to hold the Chinese to a 1-1 draw last month, there was no repeat performance this time as Wu Lei headed home a Liu Jianye cross from six yards out in the 45th minute to hand the hosts all three points.
Singapore find themselves back at the bottom of Group A after being handed a heavy 4-0 defeat at Syria.
Sanharib Malki put the Syrians ahead in the tenth minute when he got in ahead of Afiq Yunos to convert Ahmad Al Douni’s cutback, but they then struggled to add a second as opposition goalkeeper Hassan Sunny made a string of fine saves.
Nonetheless, the Lions’ resistance eventually broke in the 83rd minute as Al Douni grabbed the hosts’ second with a simple tap-in at the far post after a cross had been deflected into his path.
From then on, there was only ever going to be one winner and Oday Jafal struck three minutes later to make it 3-0 to Syria, before Abdul Fattah Al Agha headed home another to cap off a fine display from Mosab Balhous’ charges.
Finally, Vietnam continue to remain pointless at the bottom of Group E following a 3-0 loss to Uzbekistan at the My Dinh Stadium.
Debutant Vokhid Shodiev put the visitors ahead in the 40th minute when he pounced after opposition goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong had failed to control a backpass, before Igor Sergeev doubled their lead a minute after the break by heading home Vitaliy Denisov’s left-wing cross.
Sardor Rashidov then struck a minute from time to seal the win for Uzbekistan, and to make matters worse for the hosts, they had captain Le Tan Tai sent off in injury-time after he picked up a second booking.
Friday’s 2015 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying Results
Syria 4-0 Singapore
Thailand 0-3 Iran
Kuwait 0-0 Lebanon
China 1-0 Indonesia
Saudi Arabia 2-1 Iraq
Yemen 1-4 Qatar
Bahrain 1-0 Malaysia
Vietnam 0-3 Uzbekistan
United Arab Emirates 4-0 Hong Kong