Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Uzbekistan have all stormed into Australia’s 2015 Asian Cup finals, but China faces one final hurdle before joining them.
Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Uzbekistan have all stormed into Australia-s 2015 Asian Cup finals, but China faces one final hurdle before joining them.
Three-time champion Iran emphatically beat Lebanon 4-1 in Beirut to qualify from Group B alongside Kuwait, 3-1 winner over Thailand.
Oman progressed from Group A after recording an injury time winner over Syria, while Qatar and 2011 semi-finalist Uzbekistan posted decisive away wins over Malaysia and Hong Kong.
That leaves China fighting for one of the final three places when the qualifiers wind up with a final round next March, after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain qualified last week.
Host Australia, defending champion Japan, Korea Republic and DPR Korea had already secured their spots prior to the qualifiers. The winner of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup will complete the 16-team line-up for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
China missed out on securing an 11th consecutive finals appearance after being held to a goalless draw by Group C winner Saudi Arabia, while 2007 champion Iraq kept its hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Indonesia in Jakarta.
China remains second with a two point cushion over Iraq, but the 2004 finalist must now avoid defeat against Iraq in March to secure passage to Australia.
Should Iraq win, China could still qualify for the finals with one place available for the best third-place finisher from across all five groups.
Syria remain in the qualification picture, but Jordan can advance with victory over Oman in January having missed the last two rounds of qualifiers due to their 2014 FIFA World Cup play-off against Uruguay.
Despite sealing qualification last week, the UAE recorded a comprehensive 5-0 win over 10-man Vietnam to maintain its 100 per cent record in Group E.
GROUP A Syria 0 Oman 1
GROUP B Kuwait 3 Thailand 1 Lebanon 1 Iran 4
GROUP C Indonesia 0 Iraq 2 China 0 Saudi Arabia 0
GROUP D Malaysia 0 Qatar 1 Bahrain 2 Yemen 0
GROUP E Hong Kong 0 Uzbekistan 2 UAE 5 Vietnam 0