| Shinji Kagawa of Japan celebrates his goal against Tajikistan during Asian qualifier [GALLO/GETTY]
Japan, Uzbekistan, Iraq and Jordan advanced to the last round of Asian World Cup qualifying on Friday, while Australia were humbled by Oman 1-0 and North Korea were eliminated from contention.
Also failing to make yet another World Cup were China, whose 1-0 defeat against Iraq will lead to yet more disillusionment with the under-achieving national team back home.
Iraq left it late, prolific striker Younis Mahmoud snatching victory in Doha two minutes into injury time.
Japan beat host Tajikistan 4-0 and Uzbekistan defeated visiting North Korea 1-0 to send both winners into the fourth and decisive round.
North Korea became the first team from the 2010 World Cup to be knocked out of the running for Brazil 2014. Indonesia also dropped out of contention after losing 4-0 to Qatar.
Australia missed a chance to advance when they were stunned by Oman, who needed the win to remain in contention. Striker Imaad al Hosni scored from close range in the 18th minute and Australia were unable to equalise.
Jordan downed Singapore 2-0 to reach the fourth round for the first time, sparking wild celebrations in the streets of Amman. Lebanon, meanwhile, beat Kuwait 1-0 to sit second in their group and on the verge of qualifying for the next stage for the first time.
Namibia, Kenya and Republic of Congo had strong away wins as Africa's lowest-ranked teams began their quests to reach the 2014 World Cup.
Namibia won 4-0 in Djibouti, Auxerre striker Dennis Oliech scored as Kenya beat Seychelles 3-0 and Republic of Congo routed Sao Tome and Principe 5-0 in the first leg.
Togo, which played at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, were held 1-1 in Guinea-Bissau.
Ten games were scheduled for Friday, with one more on Saturday, as 22 teams battle over two legs for the 11 places available alongside Africa's big football nations in the second round - a 40-team group stage that starts next year.
Liberia already progressed after Mauritius withdrew, while Tanzania, Mozambique, African Cup of Nations co-host Equatorial Guinea and Congo also won their first-leg matches.
Five countries will eventually emerge from a two-year process involving 51 of Africa's 53 confederation members to earn a ticket to Brazil after a final round of playoffs in late 2013.
Togo and Congo are the only teams involved in Africa's earliest round of qualifiers who have been to world football's showpiece before.
Congo became the first sub-Sahara African team to play at a World Cup in 1974 under former name Zaire.
Namibia scored three second-half goals in their convincing victory in Djibouti, which is Africa's second-lowest ranked team at No. 195 in the world.