Asian Qualifiers: A look back at Group C

Kuala Lumpur: With the draw for the final round of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar set to be held on July 1, excitement is building as the 12 teams get set to learn their opponents.

The 12 sides went through extremely challenging times to advance to the final round, with the two group winners and runners-up to join hosts Qatar in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Finals while the third-placed teams from the two groups will advance to the Confederation Playoff, with the winners moving into the Inter-Confederation Playoff.

Ahead of the draw, retraces how the 12 teams booked their places from the second round of qualifying. We take a look at how Group C unfolded.

Group C of the second round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 would prove to be one of the most exciting as Islamic Republic of Iran overcame a difficult start to emerge winners.

Installed as favourites the moment the dust settled on the draw, Iran opened their campaign on Matchday Two with a 2-0 win over Hong Kong – who were held 1-1 by Cambodia in their opener – while Bahrain followed up their 1-1 Matchday One draw with Iraq by defeating Cambodia 1-0.

Asian Qualifiers – Review: Group C

Team Melli were at their best on Matchday Three as Cambodia were defeated 14-0 at the Azadi Stadium while Iraq scored their first win of the campaign, beating Hong Kong 2-0.

Iran ran into a headwind on Matchday Four, with the three-time AFC Asian Cup winners being edged 1-0 by Bahrain while Iraq boosted their hopes with 4-0 defeat of Cambodia.

Matchday Five saw Iran suffer defeat once again, this time going 2-1 down to Iraq while Bahrain’s hopes were dented by a 0-0 draw with Hong Kong.

Iraq then played to a 0-0 draw with Bahrain on Matchday Five to move to 11 points, two head of Bahrain with Iran a further three adrift.

The back-to-back defeats meant Iran, seeking a sixth appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals, had no room for error when the Asian Qualifiers resumed following the COVID-19 enforced break.

And they did not, as Team Melli started with a 3-1 win over Hong Kong, followed by 3-0 and 10-0 triumphs over Bahrain and Cambodia respectively.

Iraq kept up their challenge, defeating Cambodia 4-1 and Hong Kong 1-0 to advance into their Matchday 10 face-off with Iran only needing a draw to emerge Group C winners.

Sardar Azmoun’s strike, however, proved the difference as Iran won 1-0 to finish as group winners with Iraq second.

Both teams sealed their places in the final round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and also booked their berths in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals, with Iraq advancing as one of the five best runners-up.

Bahrain and Hong Kong advanced to the third round of the Qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 while Cambodia will have to navigate through a playoff against Guam to keep their hopes alive.


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