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Asian teams and the World Cup last 16: Tough ask for Japan and Korea, but Iran, Saudi Arabia stand a chance

CNA's Matthew Mohan looks at the permutations which will take Asian teams to the knockout round of the World Cup.

Asian teams and the World Cup last 16: Tough ask for Japan and Korea, but Iran, Saudi Arabia stand a chance

Japan's Ayase Ueda, left, and Costa Rica's Francisco Calvo fight for the ball during the World Cup, group E soccer match between Japan and Costa Rica, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Sunday, Nov 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Five of the six Asian Football Confederation (AFC) teams at the 2022 World Cup remain in the running to make it to the knockout stages.

While host nation Qatar were the first team in the tournament to be eliminated, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Australia are all in with a shot. Here's what each side will need to do:

JAPAN/GROUP E

After making life much easier for themselves by stunning Germany in their opening group game, Japan proceeded to unravel all their good work by slipping 1-0 to Costa Rica.

A draw between Spain and Germany on Sunday (Nov 27) means that Luis Enrique's team, who smashed Costa Rica 7-0, will not take their foot off the gas against Japan.

Spain are top of the group with four points, with Japan second on three. Costa Rica also have three points but have a vastly inferior goal difference, while Germany are bottom with a point.

Japan's Wataru Endo, left, and Hidemasa Morita react as they leave the field after their loss in the World Cup, group E soccer match between Japan and Costa Rica, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

But, Japan's fate is in their own hands.

Beat Spain and they will move on to the round of 16. If they draw with Spain, they will need Costa Rica to hold the Germans.

They can also qualify if they finish with a score draw with Spain, and the Germans only beat Costa Rica by one goal.

If Japan draw Spain and Costa Rica beat Germany, Hajime Moriyasu's men will be sent packing. Needless to say, if the Samurai Blue lose to Spain, they are out of the tournament.

SOUTH KOREA/GROUP H

Rock bottom of their group, South Korea arguably have the toughest task of the five teams here.

After a creditable 0-0 draw with Uruguay, a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Ghana on Monday (Nov 28) leaves them third in the group with a solitary point.

South Korea's Na Sang-ho during the World Cup group H soccer match between South Korea and Ghana, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Portugal are top with six points, Ghana with three, and Uruguay have one.

Paulo Bento's South Korea will confirm a knockout spot if they beat an already qualified Portugal by two goals or more, and Ghana draw with Uruguay. Should Uruguay beat Ghana, South Korea will need a win and hope that goal difference works in their favour.

IRAN/GROUP B

Despite being thumped by England 6-2 in their opening game, Iran have a decent chance of progressing to the next round after a dramatic 2-0 win over Wales.

England top Group B with four points, Iran are second with three, while the United States have two and Wales are last with one.

Iran's Ramin Rezaeian celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

A Team Melli win against the Americans will send them through, as will a draw if Wales fail to beat England.

Lose, and Carlos Queiroz's team are out of the tournament.

SAUDI ARABIA/GROUP C

Similar to Japan, Saudi Arabia stunned a big-name opponent in their first group game, only to fail in the second.

Poland are top of Group C with four points, with Argentina second with three. The Saudis also have three but an inferior goal difference, and Mexico are rock bottom with one point.

FILE - Saudi Arabia's Salem Al-Dawsari, right, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, on Nov. 22, 2022. For a brief moment after Saudi Arabia's Salem Aldawsari fired a soccer ball from just inside the penalty box into the back of the net to seal a win against Argentina, Arabs across the divided Middle East found something to celebrate. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

If the Saudis beat what has been a rather disappointing Mexico side, they are through.

On the flipside, a loss will see them eliminated.

However, things will get more complicated if they are held by Mexico.

They can advance with a draw - if Poland beats Argentina. If they draw and Argentina emerge victorious against Poland, the Saudis will need Lionel Scaloni's men to emerge victorious by a large margin.

However, if they draw and Argentina draw Poland, the Green Falcons will be on the next flight home.

AUSTRALIA/GROUP D

Technically in the continent of Oceania, Australia are an AFC member.

After a 4-1 humbling by France, the Socceroos did well to emerge with a 1-0 victory over Tunisia.

Tunisia's Yassine Meriah, left, and Australia's Awer Mabil fight for the ball during the World Cup group D soccer match between Tunisia and Australia at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Australia won 1-0. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

France, who have qualified for the next round, sit in first with six points, Australia with three, while Denmark (1) are third and Tunisia (1, but inferior goal difference) are fourth.

Beat the Danes, and Australia progresses. If they draw Denmark, they will also go through unless Tunisia beat France.

A loss will mean Australia is eliminated.

Watch all 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ LIVE on meWATCH. Visit mewatch.sg/fifaworldcup for details.

Source: CNA/mt

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