Nations from the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) enter into their final 2 qualifying games. Group B still looks interesting with decisive games upcoming for the top spots. On the flip side, automatic qualifying spots in Group A are all wrapped up after Iran and South Korea haven’t stopped their relentless form.
The AFC qualifying process has a total of 4 rounds with the last round being an inter-confederation playoff. A total of 4 countries will gain automatic qualifications, with the top two nations from both groups in round 3 taking the spots.
Group A dominated by relentless South Korea and Iran
The places for automatic qualification into the 2022 World Cup have already been secured by Iran and South Korea. Both nations showed they were levels apart from the rest with convincing displays in their opening eight group games.
Iran became the first Asian nation to secure their World Cup spot back in January with a well-fought 1-0 victory over Iraq. Iran’s prolific striker Taremi sealed Iran’s spot to fire them into a third straight World Cup. Taremi continued to steer Iran to success in their last group game. The Porto striker scored the eventual winner with a first half strike to edge a 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates in February.
South Korea followed Iran’s lead. South Korea became the second Asian country to qualify for the World cup with a 2-0 win over hosts Qatar in February. Two second half goals were enough to brush Syria aside, taking South Korea into a 10th successive World Cup.
Behind the two runaway leaders, the inter-confederation playoff spot is still up for grabs. Three of the remaining four nations could still finish in third spot, with only Syria out of the equation on two points.
Australia to battle it out with group leaders
Group A’s play off qualifying spot is still up for grabs, but all eyes will be on Group B and Australia’s final group games. Australia sit just three points off second spot and four off group leaders, Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos host Japan before visiting Saudi Arabia at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium.
All focus will be on Australia’s decisive final group games. Can the Socceroos finish with a big push in Group B and land themselves an automatic qualification spot?
Australia will be hoping to reverse the form with Japan after narrowly losing 2-1 in October, at the Saitama Stadium. Although Japan enjoyed the better chances, a late own goal left Australian players with head in hands after the full time whistle.
Revenge would be sweet. With a win over Japan on the 24th March, Australia will take Japan’s second place spot in Group B with one game to play.
Away from the top three nations in group B, there is virtually nothing left to play for. Fourth placed Oman sit 7 points off third place with no chance of finishing any higher than where they are currently sat.
Each gameweek 9 fixture kicks off on the 24th March, with the last round of group fixtures taking place on the 29th.
Odds available at Maverick
Odds are already available for the next round of AFC qualifying fixtures. The decisive clash between Australia and Japan looks hard to split, with Australia narrowly edging favoritism at odds of 2.62.
The odds of both teams to score at 1.99 look generous and worth a potential wager. Looking back at head to heads, out of the last 7 meetings between Japan and Australia, both teams have found the scoresheet on 6 of these occasions. The only exception was in a 2-0 win for Japan back in 2017.