11 Jun 2009

Iran victory sets up tense Asian decider

3:05 pm on 11 June 2009

Who New Zealand will face in the play-offs for a spot in next year's football World Cup finals is no clearer after the penultimate round of Asian qualifiers.

With Australia, Japan and South Korea already qualified, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran are vying for the last automatic spot at the football World Cup.

Overnight, Iran beat the United Arab Emirates 1-0 at home and Saudi Arabia drew 0-0 in South Korea, setting up a nerve-shredding final qualifying round.

Iran remain in fourth place in Group B with 10 points from seven matches, but just one behind North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

So the final automatic qualifying spot will be decided in a week, when Iran travel to South Korea while the Saudis welcome North Korea to Riyadh.

The team who finishes third in Group B will have to face the third-placed side in Group A, either Bahrain or Uzbekistan, who play each other, with the eventual winner then going on to face New Zealand.