FC Ausburg’s Asian international duo Dong-Won Ji and Takashi Usami headed into their summer break off the back of a draw and a defeat on Tuesday. Both Ji (South Korea) and Usami (Japan) had a chance to move closer to next summer’s World Cup but both teams failed to take advantage of slip-ups from their respective competition.
South Korea travelled to last-placed Qatar as group leaders and strong favourites. However Uli Stielike’s side could not live up to their tag and went down 3-2. Augsburg’s Ji started the game and played 53 minutes before being taken off with the score at 2-0 to Qatar. Korea pulled it back to 2-2 after 70 minutes but then went behind again just four minutes later. The defeat leaves South Korea still one point clear of Uzbekistan at the top of their group, with the top two sports qualifying directly for Russia next year. The remaining two game see Korea take on Iran at home before a trip to Uzbekistan, meaning their fate is still very much in their own hands.
In Group B Japan and Iraq played a 1-1 draw, although Takashi Usami was not selected in the matchday squad and so did not play a part in the point. Japan lead the group ahead of Australia, but passed up the chance to put some daylight between them and the chasing pack – which also includes Saudi Arabia. The final two games will see the Samurai Blue play their closest challengers, with a home game with Australia and a trip to Saudi Arabia left to play.