7 Jun 2009

Jaopan, South Korea and Australia through to World Cup finals

3:33 pm on 7 June 2009

Japan, South Korea and Australia became the first teams to advance to the 2010 World Cup finals, leaving just one direct qualification place still up for grabs from Asia.

Japan beat Uzbekistan 1-0 in Group One and were the first team through for the second time in a row, having also set the pace for the 2006 finals in Germany.

South Korea, the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists, outclassed already-eliminated United Arab Emirates 2-0 in their Group Two affair and reached the tournament for the seventh successive time.

Australia advanced via the Asian route for the first time after ditching Oceania two years ago.

They were content to play out a goalless draw with Qatar in Doha to maintain their unbeaten run and share the lead with Japan on 14 points, trailed by Bahrain (7), Qatar (5) and Uzbekistan (4), still in with a chance of a play-off spot.

The top two in each of the two groups qualify directly for South Africa, with the two third-place teams meeting to decide who goes through to a play-off to take on Oceania champions New Zealand.