TEHERAN • Thailand drew 2-2 with former Asian champions Iraq on Thursday to book their spot in the next round of World Cup qualifying, while new Jordan manager Harry Redknapp enjoyed an emphatic 8-0 win over Bangladesh on his international debut.
Hamza Al Daradreh hit a first-half hat-trick in the blow-out win for the former Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United manager, which set Jordan up for a Group B Sydney shoot-out on Tuesday with Asian champions Australia, who had earlier thumped Tajikistan 7-0.
The Socceroos need only a draw to ensure top spot and progress to the 12-team third round of Asian qualifiers, but that result could also see Jordan go through as one of the four best runners-up across the eight groups.
Thailand, the South-east Asian champions, can afford not to worry about the complex qualifying procedure, after another sublime display by their talented young squad in Iran ensured top spot in Group F and a spot at the 2019 Asian Cup.
They led twice in the game, after late goals in each half from Mongkol Thosakrai and Adisak Kraisorn - who scored his team's second goal in the 86th minute - and joined Qatar and South Korea in the third round despite conceding a stoppage-time equaliser.
South Korea, looking to play in their ninth consecutive World Cup, preserved their 100 per cent record in Group G after a 92nd-minute winner from Lee Jeong Hyeop gave them a 1-0 win over Lebanon in Ansan.
"Till the 91st minute, I thought an unfair result could happen in football, but a minute later, my thoughts changed," head coach Uli Stielike was quoted as saying by South Korean news agency Yonhap.
Asia's other perennial World Cup qualifying nation, Japan, picked up their sixth straight win in Group E as they thumped Afghanistan 5-0 in Saitama to stay clear of second-placed Syria, whom they host on Tuesday.
"Every one of us was on the same page tonight," striker Shinji Okazaki, who opened the scoring just before half-time, told Kyodo News.
"Hopefully we can win the next game as well and book our spot in the final qualifying round."