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Football
Jordan and Japan reach quarters
Jordan win 2-1 to put neighbours Syria out of Asian Cup while Japan complete Saudi misery with 5-0 win to top Group B.
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2011 15:17 GMT
Jordan will face Uzbekistan as they compete in the Asian Cup quarter-finals for only the second time [AFP]

Striker Odai Al Saify scored the winner as Jordan beat neighbours Syria 2-1 on a rainy night in Doha to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals at the expense of their neighbours.

Syria, needing to win to join Group B rivals Japan in the next round, took an early lead through Mohamad Al Zino at Qatar Sports Club on Monday.

But an own-goal from Syria defender Ali Dyab gave Jordan the equaliser they needed to go through, before Odai hit the winner direct from a goal kick with half an hour to play.

It is only the second time Jordan – who at 107th in the world are ranked three places above Syria – have reached the quarter-finals.

They lost to Japan at that stage on debut in 2004, and will now play Uzbekistan for a place in the semi-finals.

Twenty kilometres away, Japan completed Saudi Arabia's Asian Cup misery, going top of Group B with a 5-0 win that leaves the Gulf giants heading home pointless after the group stage.

Shinji Okazaki scored three and Ryoichi Maeda hit two at Al Rayyan Stadium to set up a semi-final meeting with hosts Qatar.

The match at Qatar Sports Club started at breakneck pace with Jordan almost going ahead after just 30 seconds, Amer Deeb slipping a through ball into the path of Hasan Abdel Fattah whose sliding shot was jabbed just wide.

Boisterous

Matters got no less calm from that point and, with both sides urged on by two equal blocks of support in a boisterous 10,000 crowd, tackles and shots on goal were being made at a furious rate.

Asian Cup Group B

Sunday January 9

 Japan 1-1 Jordan
 Saudi Arabia 1-2 Syria

Thursday January 13

 Jordan 1-0 Saudi Arabia
 Syria 1-2 Japan

Monday January 17

 Jordan 2-1 Syria
 Saudi Arabia 0-5 Japan

But haste got the better of accuracy until the 15th minute when Jehad Al Hussain turned into space 35 yards out and threaded through for Sanharib Malki to hit a low drive from the right of the six-yard box.

Jordan keeper Amer Shafi parried it out but the ball fell straight for striker Mohamad Al Zino to hammer it low into the bottom left corner.

That sent the Syrian section into a series of Mexican waves that crashed, ignored, against the Jordanian stand.

Fifteen minutes before half time, Jordan levelled.

Amer whipped in a cross from the right touchline, and as goalkeeper Mosab Balhous rushed out to punch clear, defender Dyab jumped and looped a header back over the keeper and into his own net.

A rare desert rainshower hit Doha at half-time, making grass and ball slippy as Jordan keeper Shafi was instrumental in keeping the scores level – and then setting up the goal that ensured Jordan's qualification.

Ten minutes into the half he punched over a dipping free kick from Al Zino before Syria left-back Samer Aouad hit a viciously swerving drive that was parried away as it headed for the net.

Then on 59 minutes, Shafi's long, low goal kick straight up the middle was chased by Odai, who was being held off by the unfortunate Dyab before he somehow got his foot around the defender to dab the ball past the onrushing Balhous.

Jordan hung on comfortably for the next 30 minutes while the Syrian support gradually drained from the ground as the clock ticked down on their Asian Cup campaign.

Woeful

The Saudis' result was the heaviest they had suffered to Japan and capped a woeful tournament after they sacked coach Jose Peseiro following their surprise opening defeat by Syria.

Although they could not qualify for the last eight replacement coach Nasser Al Johar had called for an improved display from Saudi Arabia, who have been champions three times and were runners-up to Iraq in 2007.

But his side fell behind after just eight minutes as Okazaki claimed his first after good work from Yasuhito Endo.

The 24-year-old Shimizu S-Pulse forward then doubled the lead five minutes later with a diving header after a cross from Shinji Kagawa.

Ryoichi Maeda capped a terrible first 20 minutes for the Saudis when he beat keeper Waleed Abdullah to Yuto Nagatomo's cross.

The third goal brought about some respite for the Saudi defence as Japan eased off but after coach Alberto Zaccheroni's half time team talk the Blue Samurai regained their composure to score twice more.

Maeda added his second with a header from another cross in the 51st minute before Okazaki wrapped up his hat-trick 10 minutes before the end after Abdullah failed to keep out his shot.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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