Australia ease heat on coach Osieck; Uzbeks beat Qataris
By Patrick Johnston ,Reuters
October 18, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
SINGAPORE -- Australia eased the heat on under-fire coach Holger Osieck by coming from behind to beat Iraq 2-1 in Asian World Cup qualifying on Tuesday as Uzbekistan overcame scorching temperatures to edge Qatar in Doha.
Iran once again proved too tricky a destination for South Korea with Carlos Queiroz's side overcoming his sending-off and that of forward Masoud Shojaei to win 1-0 in Tehran. Oman beat giantkillers Jordan 2-1 in Muscat.
Socceroos boss Osieck was under pressure at home after the team's stodgy start to qualifying with poor performances and dropped points in West Asia causing ire.
It looked like another raft of negative headlines were coming his way when Australia, after dominating the match played in Doha because of security issues in Iraq, fell behind to Alaa Abdul Zahra's goal in the 72nd minute but his substitutes provided respite.
After Tim Cahill had scored an 80th-minute header, replacements Tommy Oar and Archie Thompson combined to grab an 84th-minute winner and lift the Socceroos into second place in a tight Group B.
"I'm really happy with the result as we managed to make a good comeback and got three points which will put us back into contention," Osieck told reporters.
"We were lucky even though it only came in the closing minutes. We managed to score from the chances that we had unlike the last match against Jordan where were failed to score from the chances that we created and we lost the match."
Australia now have their destiny in their own hands as they sit on five points from four matches with three of their last four games at home.
Japan, pummelled 4-0 in a friendly by World Cup hosts Brazil in a wet Poland on Tuesday, top the five-team group which will provide two finalists for 2014.
Oman are level on points with the Socceroos after they beat Jordan 2-1 at home for their first win in the group. Jordan, who had stunned Australia 2-1 last month, were unhappy that they did not earn at least a point after twice having the ball in the net late on.
"It was a disappointing defeat as we had a good performance and we were denied two goals today and it could have been a different result had we got those two been awarded," Jordan coach Adnan Hamad told reporters.
Elsewhere in Doha, there were few chances of note in the day's opening clash between Qatar and Uzbekistan with both sides' creativity suffocated in the daytime heat of the tiny gulf nation.
As temperatures soared to 35 Celsius in the match which began at 1525 local time, Chinese referee Tan Hai twice stopped the contest to allow the players to rehydrate with neither side looking like adding to Sanjar Tursunov's 13th-minute volley for the visitors.
"The weather affected the two teams and the high temperature affected our players and therefore there were not many chances," Uzbek coach Mirjalol Kasimov told reporters.
"We took advantage of the chance that we had and won the match which was our first win in this round and hopefully we can continue winning."
The win pulled the Uzbeks from the foot of Group A back into contention for a first World Cup appearance. The Central Asians are third in the group, two points behind Iran and perennial qualifiers South Korea, who had another night to forget in Tehran.
The Koreans fielded a much-changed side as they sought a first win in the Iranian capital and their hopes were boosted by the sending-off of Shojaei early in the second half but the home side stood firm.
Captain Javad Nekounam struck a 76th-minute winner with the importance of the victory not lost on the Iranian coaching staff and players who mobbed Queiroz, sent off for complaining about decisions and leaving his technical area, after the final whistle.