Leckie, Australia ease past Kuwait

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Elkeson seals China’s World Cup win as Japan thrash Myanmar

Kuwaiti player (right), fights for the ball with Australian player during their World Cup Group B Asia qualifying match between Kuwait and Australia in Kuwait City on Sept 10.

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 10, (Agencies): Kuwait’s national football team received heavy defeat in the hands of Australia by three goals to nil during the second round of the second group double qualification matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the Asian Football Cup 2023 in China.

The Australian goals were scored by Matthew Leckie in the seventh and 30th minutes, and the third goal was scored by Aaron Mooy in the 38th minute. All goals were scored in the first half, giving Australia three group points, leveling them with Kuwait, Jordan and Nepal, whereas at the bottom of the group is Taiwan which has yet to bag any point. The third round is expected to start on Oct 10 during which Kuwait will clash with Jordan, and Australia will play with Nepal.

Kuwaiti soccer fans cheer during the World Cup Group B Asia qualifying match between Kuwait and Australia in Kuwait City on Sept 10.

The national team’s loss in the first real test for the team after their absence of about four years in the international football arena, something which raises several question marks on the role of its national coach Jozak, especially in relation to losing in the home match and before a huge crowd of spectators who came to support their national team.

Observers suggest that the national couch committed an error in excluding Bader Al-Mutawa, Nasser Yousef and Al-Ansari, and Reza Hadi in the starting squad, something which could have afflicted heavy loss on the national team.

However, Jozak rectified his error with the start of second half by bringing in Yousef Nasser and Bader Al-Mutawa. This changed Kuwait’s game completely but the Australian side was well prepared to defend their lead, ending the match with a loss which Kuwait needs to compensate in the coming matches in order to keep the qualifying flame on.

Brazilian-born striker Elkeson scored twice on his debut for China in a 5-0 win over the Maldives in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, just a month after becoming a Chinese citizen.

Now known as Ai Kesen, the striker scored two late goals after the visitors were already 3-0 up as coach Marcello Lippi’s team got off to a winning start in Group A. China is trying to qualify for a first World Cup since its sole appearance in 2002.

In Hong Kong, Sardar Azmoun and Karim Ansarifard were on target as Iran made a winning start to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Hong Kong.

Iran are a point behind group leaders Bahrain who won away to Cambodia 1-0 but have played one game more.

Japan, another of Asia’s World Cup regulars, also picked up a 2-0 win as goals from Shoya Nakajima and Takumi Minamino were enough to see off Myanmar in Yangon in Group F. Tajikistan top the group after they picked up a second straight win with a 1-0 victory in Mongolia.

In Group G, the United Arab Emirates fought back from going a goal down after 33 seconds to defeat Malaysia 2-1 in Kuala Lumpur thanks to a brace from Ali Mabkhout.

Bert van Marwijk’s side join the Malaysians on three points and trail group leaders Thailand by a point after Akira Nishino’s team beat Indonesia 3-0 in Jakarta. Singapore pulled off a 2-1 victory over Palestine in Group D while the Philippines bounced back from their opening round loss against Syria to thrash Guam 4-1 in Group A.

Anjan Bista scored twice as Nepal beat Chinese Taipei 2-0 in Group B and Afghanistan notched up a 1-0 victory over Bangladesh in Group E.

Jang Kuk Chol scored the only goal as North Korea defeated Sri Lanka to move onto six points in Group H, three ahead of South Korea, who kicked off their campaign with a 2-0 win over Turkmenistan.

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