Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia to meet; Lions set for Japan duel

Three of Southeast Asia’s traditional heavyweights – Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – will face off in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are they were all drawn in Group F on Tuesday.

The draw for the second round of qualification took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and saw a total of ten teams from Southeast Asia find out their path to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which will see each of them play eight matches from June to next March.

Apart from the World Cup, the qualifiers will also double up for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which means Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all stand an excellent chance of progressing to the continent’s biggest tournament.

Although Iraq are favourites to finish top of Group F, the trio of Southeast Asian countries will all fancy their prospects of fighting it out for second place, given the remaining team is minnows Chinese Taipei.

Over in Group E, Singapore and Cambodia both face a tricky route to the next round after being pitted against Asian giants Japan, Syria and Afghanistan.

Malaysia find themselves in Group A along with regional rivals Timor-Leste, although they will be aware they will have to get a result against either United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Palestine to have any chance of advancing to the Asian Cup.

Neighbours Myanmar and Laos will meet in Group G along with Korea Republic, Kuwait and Lebanon, while Philippines face Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Korea DPR and Yemen in Group H.

2018 FIFA World Cup Second Round Qualifying Draw

Group A: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor Leste, Malaysia

Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh

Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong

Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam

Group E: Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia

Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei

Group G: Korea Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos

Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, Korea DPR, Yemen


Cambodia, Timor-Leste through to second round; Brunei ousted

Cambodia are through to the second round of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a 1-1 draw with Macau on Tuesday was enough to send them through 4-1 on aggregate.

Following a 3-0 win over Macau in last Friday’s first leg, the Royal Khmers only need to avoid defeat at the Macau Olympic Complex to guarantee their place in the next round.

However, just for good measure, they took the lead two minutes before the half-hour mark when Thierry Chantha Bin netted his first goal in international colours.

Macau did equalise on the night in the 52nd minute when Leong Ka Hang netted from the penalty spot but it was little more than a consolation, as the Cambodians held out to advance.

The other Southeast Asian side that will be joining them in the second round are Timor-Leste¸who beat Mongolia 1-0 at the MFF Football Centre to record a 5-1 aggregate triumph.

The only goal of the game arrived after just nine minutes Patrick Fabiano found the back of the net, which ultimately proved enough to seal their place in the next stage.

However, there was no such joy for Brunei Darussalam as they were eliminated by Chinese Taipei 2-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 defeat at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

Despite leading 1-0 from last Friday’s first leg, Tebuan fell behind in the 37th minute through a Wang Rui strike, before Chu En-le added a second eight minutes after halftime to win it for the visitors.

Brunei claim historic triumph; wins for Cambodia, Timor-Leste

Brunei Darussalam claimed their first-ever win in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers on Thursday after beating Chinese Taipei 1-0 in the first leg of their first-round clash.

The only goal of the game at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung arrived in the 36th minute and was credited to Adi Said, although he appeared to make little contact with Awangku Fakharrazi’s right-wing cross which sailed all the way past Chin Yu-hung.

The victory puts in a good position to qualify for the group stage in the second round, as long as they avoid defeat in next Tuesday’s second leg.

Over at the Army Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia also took a big step towards advancing to the next round when they beat Macau 3-0.

Chan Vathanaka fired the Angkor Warriors ahead in the 64th minute when the opposition defence’s failure to clear their lines allowed him to pounce on a loose ball, and skip past Ho Man Fai before firing into the unguarded net.

Vathanaka then doubled his and his team’s tally nine minutes from time when he lined up a freekick on the edge of the box, and curled a brilliant effort in off the far post.

And in the fourth minute of injury-time, Khoun Laboravy sealed the win for Cambodia after he was left unmarked inside the box, and met Rous Samoeun’s left-wing cross with a deft header into the far corner.

Timor-Leste, the final Southeast Asian side involved in Thursday’s qualifiers, were also victorious after beating Mongolia 4-1 at the National Stadium in Dili.

Chiquito do Carmo got the Timorese off to a dream start after netting twice in the opening seven minutes, but they had to wait till the 84th minute to put the result beyond doubt when Rodrigo Silva made it 3-0.

Jairo Neto added a fourth for O Sol Nascente a minute later cap off the rout, although the visitors did manage a consolation effort in the 87th minute through a Batmonkhiin Erkhembayar strike.

Ten-man Malaysia beat Yemen; heavy defeat for Thailand

Malaysia ended their AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign on a positive note after beating Yemen 2-1 in their final Group D encounter on Wednesday.

Harimau Malaya got off to a horror start at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium when they had Amirizdwan Taj Tajuddin sent off after nine minutes for a last-man foul on Saddam Hussein inside the area, but they were spared further punishment as Wahid Al Khyat’s tame penalty was saved by Khairul Fahmi.

And in the 16th minute, the visitors took the lead opposition keeper Saoud Al Sawedi could only fumble Hafiz Kamal’s freekick back off his bar, allowing Amri Yahyah to race in and head home the rebound.

Nonetheless, Yemen did make the most of their numerical advantage as they equalised a minute before the hour mark; Sadam and Ala Mohammed Abdullah Al Sasi combining well to release Mohammed Al Sarori, who made no mistake in firing past Fahmi.

But 13 minutes from time, Malaysia went on to claim the victory after substitute Ahmad Fakri Saarani improvised well and stuck out a foot to meet Nazrin Nawi’s freekick, getting just enough on the ball to direct it into the bottom corner.

The win also meant Ong Kim Swee was victorious in his first competitive game as caretaker coach of Harimau Malaya, and ensured they were the best performing Southeast Asian side.

Over in Group B, Thailand finished pointless after being handed a heavy 5-2 defeat to Lebanon at the Rajamangala Stadium.

Mohammed Ghaddar capitalised on some slack marking to head home the opener from a corner after just two minutes, before Hassan Maatouk added a second in the 19th minute.

Teeratep Winothai did pull one back for Thailand from the spot four minutes later after Teerasil Dangda had been brought down inside the area, only for Ali Saad to restore the visitors’ two-goal lead on the stroke of halftime.

A minute after the restart, Maatouk doubled his tally for the evening and it was 5-1 three minutes after the hour mark when Roda Antar got in on the act.

Adisak Kraisorn did grab a second for the War Elephants in the 76th minute to add some respectability to the scoreline, but it was a fitting end to what has been a disappointing campaign from the Thais.

Likewise, Singapore were outplayed at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex as they fell to a 3-1 loss at the hands of Group A winners Oman.

Amad Al-Hosni fired home on the rebound to hand the hosts a 19th-minute lead, before Qasim Said made it 2-0 six minutes after the restart; his low shot taking a wicked deflection off Afiq Yunos and rolling past Hassan Sunny.

The contest was all but ended in the 69th minute after Sami Al-Hasani weighed in with a third from close range, although the Lions did grab a consolation nine minutes later when captain Shahril Ishak raced onto Zulfahmi Arifin’s excellent through-ball and coolly finished past Ali Al-Habsi.

Although they ended their campaign bottom of Group C, Vietnam were able to restore some pride as they claimed their first points with a 3-1 triumph over Hong Kong at the My Dinh National Stadium.

After Huynh Quoc Anh had handed them the lead in the 23rd minute, Nguyen Anh Duc struck eight minutes after the hour mark to put the hosts firmly in control of the tie.

Lam Ka Wai managed to pull one back for Hong Kong in the 81st minute but any hopes they had of mustering a fightback was ended two minutes later; Nguyen Trong Hoang netting Vietnam’s third goal.

The winning margin could have been even greater after Nhung chien binh do were awarded a penalty four minutes from time, but Nguyen Van Bien was unable to convert from 12 yards.

Finally in Group D, Indonesia put up a plucky display but were ultimately beaten 1-0 by Saudi Arabia at the Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium; the only goal of the game coming two minutes from time via a Fahad Al Muwallad strike.

Wednesday’s 2015 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying Results

Group A

Oman 3-1 Singapore

Jordan 2-1 Syria

Group B

Thailand 2-5 Lebanon

Group C

Iraq 3-1 China

Saudi Arabia 1-0 Indonesia

Group D

Yemen 1-2 Malaysia

Qatar 0-0 Bahrain

Group E

Uzbekistan 1-1 United Arab Emirates

Vietnam 3-1 Hong Kong

Singapore end Asian Cup qualifying with Oman defeat

Singapore’s 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign in Group A came to an end on Wednesday with a 3-1 defeat to Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.

Showing plenty of initiative from the first whistle, Oman came close on several occasions in the opening exchanges with Amad Al-Hosni and Qasim Said missing good chances.

But in the 19th minute the deadlock was duly broken after Lions centre-back Safuwan Baharudin failed to cut out a searching ball from Eid Al-Farsi, allowing Al-Hosni to fire home emphatically on the rebound after his initial effort had drawn a fine save from Hassan Sunny.

The woodwork then denied Oman from adding to their tally as Al Farsi saw a low drive from an acute angle come back off the post, before Al-Hosni sent a spectacular bicycle kick smashing into the bar shortly after the half-hour mark.

Al-Hosni then had an excellent chance to grab his second just before halftime when a left-wing cross fell to him two yards out from goal, only for his shot to be kept out by a fantastic point-blank range stop from Hassan.

Nonetheless, Oman finally managed to double their advantage six minutes into the second half after Raed Ibrahim cut the ball back to Qasim, who eased past Zulfahmi Arifin before firing in a shot that deflected off Afiq Yunos’ foot and into the back of the net.

Nine minutes after the hour mark, the contest was all but over when substitute Sami Al-Hasani added a third; coolly sidefooting into the bottom corner from close range after Qasim had played a perfect ball across the face of goal.

To their credit, the visitors refused to give up in their search for a goal and they managed to grab a consolation in the 78th minute when captain Shahril Ishak raced onto Zulfahmi’s glorious through-ball, before sliding his shot through the legs of Ali Al-Habsi.

Oman: Ali Al Habsi, Saad Al-Mukhaini, Mohammed Al-Sheiba, Jaber Al-Owaisi, Ali Al-Busaidi, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Ahmed Mubarak, Eid Al-Farsi (Ali Al-Jabri 86′), Fahad Khamis Rashid (Sami Al-Hasani 61′), Qasim Said (Juma Darwish 71′), Amad Al-Hosni.

Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Juma’at Jantan, Safuwan Baharudin, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah, Hariss Harun, Zulfahmi Arifin, Faris Ramli, Shahril Ishak (Gabriel Quak 83’), Hafiz Abu Sujad (Ismail Yunos 55’), Shahfiq Ghani (M. Anumanthan 74’).

Dooley calls up 34 men to first Azkals training squad

Thomas Dooley has called up 34 players to his first training squad after being confirmed as the new coach of Philippines last week.

Dooley, who won 81 caps for the United States and played at both the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup, will make his bow as Azkals boss at the start of next month in friendlies against Malaysia and Azerbaijan, after being named successor to German Michael Weiss.

And on Friday morning, the roster for his inaugural training session was revealed with no real surprises, although Philippines fans will be delighted a number of youngsters will be handed invaluable exposure after being called up.

None of the Azkals’ foreign-based contingent were selected due to their ongoing club commitments, meaning they will be without the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Stephan Schrock, Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, Ascot United defender Rob Gier and Buriram United striker Javier Patino.

Apart from Patrick Reichelt and Chad Gould – both currently unattached – the entire squad has been selected from United Football League (UFL) clubs; Global the best-represented with 11 players.

Carli de Murga, who has is closing in on a return following a lengthy injury layoff, was given the nod, along with the likes of Jeffrey Christiaens, Misagh Bahadoran, Jason de Jong, Jerry Barbaso and Marvin Angeles.

There is also a first call-up for Filipino-American defender Charley Pettys, who is currently in his first season with Global.

Loyola Meralco Sparks duo James Younghusband and Phil Younghusband are expected to play key roles as usual; the latter especially up front given the absence of Patino, Angel Guirado and Denis Wolf.

However, the lack of established attacking options has enabled Gould and Nate Burkey to earn a recall, while Milan Arends will offer a further alternative.

Philippine Army custodian Eduard Sacapano is certain to get the nod in goal, although there will plenty of competition between youngsters Paolo Pascual, Patrick Deyto and Nick O’Donnell to be his deputy.

Anton Del Rosario, who struggled to force his way into the reckoning during the Weiss era, has also returned from the wilderness and is one of five Kaya players named, including Chris Greatwich and OJ Porteria.

Philippines are currently preparing for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, which kicks off in May, and were pitted against Afghanistan, Laos and Turkmenistan in Group B on Wednesday.

The winners of the Challenge Cup earn an automatic berth at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.

Philippines training squad

Goalkeepers: Patrick Deyto (Green Archers United), Eduard Sacapano (Philippine Army), Nick O’Donnell (Kaya), Paolo Pascual (Global)

Defenders: Jerry Barbaso, Amani Aguinaldo, Jeffrey Christiaens, Charley Pettys (all Global), Anton Del Rosario (Kaya), Simone Rota (Stallion), Jake Hugo, Ryan Lirio (both Philippine Air Force), Reymark Fernandez (Green Archers United) , Deo Segunial, Nathan Octavio (both Pachanga Diliman)

Midfielders: OJ Porteria, Chris Greatwich, Kenshiro Daniels (all Kaya), Emelio Caligdong, Ronnie Aguisanda (both Green Archers United), James Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks), Marvin Angeles, Marwin Angeles, Carli de Murga, Mark Hartmann, Jason de Jong, Misagh Bahadoran (all Global), Patrick Reichelt (unattached), Rodolf Bebanco (Philippine Air Force), Curt Dizon (Union Internacional Manila)

Forwards: Phil Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks), Nate Burkey (Pachanga Diliman), Milan Arends (Stallion), Chad Gould (unattached)

Philippines, Laos to meet in Challenge Cup; Myanmar face hosts

Philippines and Laos will face off in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup after both sides were put together in Group B in Wednesday’s draw.

The tournament, which offers a spot at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup to the eventual champions, kicks off on May 19 in Maldives and the eight sides vying for the crown were handed their group-stage fate on Wednesday.

The Azkals, who finished third in the previous edition, were pitted against fellow Southeast Asian side Laos, 2012 runners-up Turkmenistan and Afghanistan in Group B.

Philippines met the Turkmen in last year’s qualifiers and beat them 1-0 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium thanks to Phil Younghusband’s 67th-minute winner, although they now have a new coach at the helm after Thomas Dooley was appointed as the successor to Michael Weiss.

Over in Group A, Myanmar coach Radojko Avramovic will be aware his side face a tough challenge after being drawn alongside hosts Maldives, Krygyzstan and Maldives.

Avramovic, who was only recently confirmed as the new boss of the White Angels, will be looking to make his mark on the continental stage, having enjoyed plenty of success in Southeast Asia with Singapore after winning three AFF Suzuki Cup titles.

The group stage kicks off on May 19 with the top two sides qualifying for the semi-finals, before the champions will be decided in the final on May 30.

2014 AFC Challenge Cup Draw

Group A: Maldives, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar

Group B: Afghanistan, Philippines, Turkmenistan, Laos