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

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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.