Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam saw their hopes of qualifying for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup ended on Tuesday after all three suffered defeats in their respective groups.
Indonesia, who were coming off the back of two impressive displays against China that ultimately saw them claim just one point, were unable to cause an upset as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Iraq at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Group C.
Having gained the upper hand from the opening whistle, the visitors took the lead in the 27th minute when Hammadi Ahmad met Ali Adnan’s perfectly-weighted left-wing cross with a firm header past I Made Wirawan.
Five minutes later, they earned a penalty after Muhammad Roby had fouled Alaa Abdul-Zahra inside the box, allowing Karrar Jassim to fire home from 12 yards and wrap up the three points.
Over in Group B, Thailand’s slim hopes of qualifying were finally ended after they were beaten by Kuwait 3-1 at the Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium.
The hosts edged ahead in the 19th minute when Yousef Nasser headed home a Jarah Al Ateeqi cross despite Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool’s best efforts to keep it out, before Fahad Awadh made it 2-0 four minutes before the hour mark from the penalty spot.
The War Elephants were given a glimmer of hope in the 68th minute when Monkol Tossagri pulled one back with a clever lob, but Kuwait secured the win three minutes later when Nasser scored his second on the rebound, after Sinthaweechai had kept out his initial effort.
Likewise, Vietnam are also destined to finish bottom of Group E after being handed a fifth consecutive defeat in qualifying – a 5-0 loss at United Arab Emirates.
As if things were not already difficult enough for the visitors, they found themselves reduced to ten men after just seven minutes when Le Phuoc Vinh was sent off for a last-man foul on Ali Mabkhout, although UAE were unable to make the most of the resultant spot-kick as Hamdan Al Kamali saw his effort superbly saved by Nguyen Thanh Binh.
But the hosts eventually made their numerical superiority count in the 19th minute when Walid Abbas broke the deadlock, before Ismail Matar doubled their lead six minutes later with an emphatic finish.
A minute after the half-hour mark, Mabkhout made it 3-0 with a neat finish from a tight angle, and it took UAE just six more minutes to add a fourth; Omar Abdulrahman playing a brilliant through-pass for Habib Fardan, who skipped past Thanh Binh before slotting home.
Although the contest was all but over, Vietnam did manage to put in a commendable display in the second half, keeping their opponents at bay until the second minute of injury-time when Ahmad Khalil applied the finishing touches to a sweeping team move to round off the scoring.
Southeast Asia’s hopes now rest in the hands of Singapore, who were not in action on Tuesday, and Malaysia, who are still in the running despite a 1-0 defeat by Qatar.
While they more than matched their more-illustrious opponents throughout the 90 minutes, Harimau Malaya fell to a 65th minute strike by Abdulkarim Al Ali, who was left with a simple finish after Sebastian Sooria had chipped the ball over the onrushing Khairul Fahmi.
Still, Malaysia remain in the running to qualify as the best third-placed side, although they face plenty of competition from the four other groups.
Tuesday’s 2015 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying Results
Syria 0-1 Oman
Lebanon 1-4 Iran
Kuwait 3-1 Thailand
China 0-0 Saudi Arabia
Indonesia 0-2 Iraq
Malaysia 0-1 Qatar
Bahrain 2-0 Yemen
Hong Kong 0-2 Uzbekistan
United Arab Emirates 5-0 Vietnam