Soccer- Iran Through to Next Round in World Cup Qualifiers

By Michael Church

 – Qatar advanced to the third phase of Asia’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Kuwait as Iran, Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates joined Australia and Iraq in securing progress to the next round.

Almoez Ali twice put Marquez Lopez’s Asian Cup holders ahead in Kuwait City to maintain his side’s perfect record in Group A and seal top spot in the standings after India suffered a 2-1 loss against Afghanistan.

The first two finishers in each of the nine groups advance to the third round of the continent’s qualifiers for the finals in Canada, Mexico and the United States, where Asia will have eight guaranteed slots at the 48-team tournament.

Uzbekistan also confirmed their place in the third round with a 3-0 win over Hong Kong in Tashkent, with goals from Eldor Shomurodov, Hojimat Erkinov and Oston Urunov ensuring they would take one of the two berths available in Group E.

They will be joined in the next round from the group by Iran, with both nations on 10 points after Mehdi Ghayedi scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Turkmenistan in Ashgabat.

Fabio Lima netted a brace to take the UAE through from Group H having defeated Yemen 3-0 in the Saudi Arabian city of Khobar as Bahrain strengthened their grip on second place with a 3-0 victory over Nepal.

Saudi Arabia, however, will have to wait until their meeting with Jordan on June 6 for another opportunity to book a berth in the next round after Rustam Soirov’s 80th minute equaliser earned Tajikistan a 1-1 draw against Roberto Mancini’s side.

The Saudis would have qualified with a win in Dushanbe but still lead Group G by three points from Jordan, who thrashed Pakistan 7-0 in Amman.

Kyrgyzstan and Oman are locked together on nine points at the top of Group D after Kyrgyzstan eased to a 5-1 win over visitors Taiwan and the Omanis won 2-0 against hosts Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

Syria demolished Myanmar 7-0 to move to within two points of Group B leaders Japan, whose meeting with North Korea was cancelled when the secretive state said last week it would not host the meeting with Hajime Moriyasu’s side in Pyongyang.

Earlier in the day, Iraq and Australia confirmed their passage to the next round with 5-0 wins over the Philippines and Lebanon respectively securing their progress.

Iraq are certain to go through as one of the top two in Group F, where they lead Indonesia by five points after Shin Tae-yong’s side claimed a 3-0 win over Vietnam.

Australia will progress from Group I ahead of Palestine, who were 1-0 winners against Bangladesh.

Son Heung-min was on the scoresheet as South Korea defeated Thailand 3-0 in Bangkok to continue to lead Group C by three points from China, who moved into second place with a 4-1 win over Singapore.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis)

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