Don’t let World Cup qualifying get in the way here. For the teams that have been eliminated from Brazil 2014, these official FIFA dates will not go to waste. Continental qualifiers are plentiful in Asia as there are only 10 teams still competing in World Cup qualification.
There isn’t much use in recapping the standings since we are still very early in the qualification stages. Nobody will be eliminated, nobody will qualify. As usual, it’s important to secure all three points at home and try to steal some on the road.
Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming matchday 2 fixtures.
Lebanon v Thailand – Beirut, Lebanon
Neither of these Group B teams gained positive results from their recent warm-up friendlies for this match. Lebanon drew 0-0 at Bahrain and Thailand played to a disappointing 1-0 loss at Qatar. Both of these teams are in need of points as either could see themselves 6 points behind the group leader when the day is done. While both teams have played a ton of games in the last two years, it’s their first match up since early 2009.
China PR v Iraq – Changsha, China PR
China once again see themselves behind the eight ball early in qualifying. They lost their first game to Saudi Arabia and cannot afford to drop another 3 points here. These two teams are very familiar with each other as they were drawn into the same 3rd round group in AFC World Cup qualification in the later stages of 2011. Iraq got the best of China in both meetings, winning 1-0 each time. China is very difficult to figure out. They are one of the higher ranked AFC teams but constantly underachieve. Knowing their past history, it’s difficult to predict a China victory with any confidence. We Global think the slide continues.
Malaysia v Yemen – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia are another team coming off a bad warm-up friendly result after suffering a 4-1 beat down from Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Not what you want to see if you’re a fan of the Malay Tigers. However, things are about to get better with a very poor Yemen side coming to town. While Malaysia’s form may be down recently, there aren’t many teams in the world with worse form than Yemen. Yemen currently has lost 12 matches in a row and has scored a grand total of 4 goals across those matches. That’s 1 goal every 3 games if you’re scoring at home. 1 goal for every 270 minutes played! There isn’t much for Yemen to hope for in the match. Long way to travel + sorry team = zero points.
Prediction: Malaysia by 1
Bahrain v Qatar – Riffa, Bahrain
Is it just me, or do these two teams get paired together in every single competition? It’s very convenient for them since the two capitals are only separated by 87 miles. I also feel like these teams draw more often than not. Since September 2011, Bahrain and Qatar have met 4 times. Bahrain claimed a 1-0 win in the most recent meeting, but the other 3 matches ended in a draw. This could be a deciding match in group D as Malaysia and Yemen appear to be weaker sides.
Prediction: Bahrain by 1
Hong Kong v Vietnam – Hong Kong
Hong Kong are looking to build off a very impressive draw in Uzbekistan that kicked off their Asian Cup qualifying campaign. Vietnam suffered a 2-1 loss to a far superior team in the UAE on matchday 1. Only 10 spots separate these two in the We Global rankings, so a close match is expected. While this match doesn’t figure to be very important in the final group E standings, I’m sure Hong Kong would love nothing more than to keep Vietnam at the bottom of the table. Both teams have found wins difficult to come by in recent fixtures. We Global expects that trend to continue.
UAE v Uzbekistan – Abu Dhabi, UAE
This match is a very early marquee fixture in group E. These two teams do not meet again until the final matchday in March 2014. A lot is a stake for Uzbekistan as they attempt to recover from a shock draw to Hong Kong and also try not to look ahead to their upcoming World Cup Qualifying match against Lebanon. A loss here would see them 5 points adrift of UAE after two matches and could very well be too much to overcome. UAE are on a quite a run of form, winning their 10 previous matches, including a 2013 Gulf Cup title, by a combined score of 25-10. Uzbekistan look to end that streak, but it’s going to be extremely difficult.
Prediction: UAE by 1
Indonesia v Saudi Arabia – Jakarta, Indonesia
As stated above, Saudi Arabia are coming off an impressive 4-1 win over Malaysia in a warm up friendly. They’ve obviously acclimated themselves to the 4 hour time difference in Jakarta. Saudi Arabia will be looking to keep the pressure on Iraq. Indonesia are sinking in form since a 1-0 defeat of Singapore back in November. They’ve since suffered 3 straight shut-out defeats. However returning home for the first time since 6 matches may do them some good. Expect a testy encounter, but Saudi Arabia should claim all 3 points.
Prediction: Saudi Arabia by 1
Kuwait v Iran – Kuwait City, Kuwait
This is a vital clash in group B. Iran thrashed Lebanon 5-0 in their opener while Kuwait claimed a 3-1 road victory in Bangkok. These are two of the better sides in Asian Cup qualifying. I’m actually very surprised to learn that this is their first meeting in 3 years. As with UAE v Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Iran do not meet again until the final matchday. This presents a great opportunity to each side to stake an early lead. A road win for Iran will make things very difficult for Kuwait going forward.
2015 Asian Cup Qualifying will not resume until October 2013, so there will be a significant break in our coverage of this competition. Be sure to grab that tracker that’s available on our downloads page so you can keep track at home.