War-torn neighbours Syria and Iraq continued their unbeaten starts to the Asian World Cup qualifying competition on Tuesday.
Forced to play all their matches away because of the problems in their homeland, Syria’s Eagles made it three wins from three matches with a 6-0 thrashing of Cambodia at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Syria’s 21-year-old striker Omar Khrbin scored twice, his first brace for his embattled country, while Mahmoud Al Mawas, Sanharib Malki, Omar Midani and Osama Omari also got on the scoresheet.
The victory – their second by that scoreline in the qualifiers – consolidated Syria’s position at the top of the Asian Group E standings with nine points and 13 goals without reply.
Iraq surrendered a 2-0 lead, conceding two late goals to draw 2-2 with Thailand in Bangkok, but remain unbeaten. Iraq’s American-born winger Justin Meram opened the scoring in the 34th minute. Then Iraq’s captain, Younis Mahmoud, doubled the lead in the second half with his 55th international goal.
But Thailand, who won their first two matches, scored twice in the last 10 minutes through Theerathon Bunmathan and Mongkol Tossakrai, to remain at the head of Group F standings, although Iraq, three points behind, have a game in hand.
Jordan scored twice in each half in a 4-0 win over Bangladesh in Dhaka to remain undefeated in Group B, with Abdallah Deeb scoring a brace, including a penalty.
Kuwait defeated Laos 2-0 in Vientiane to preserve their 100 per cent record, while 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar continued the strong showing by Gulf teams, holding on for a 3-2 victory over previously unbeaten Hong Kong.
Qatar almost threw it away after leading 3-0 with three minutes of normal time left but head the Group C standings with nine points from three matches, followed by China and Hong Kong, both on seven.
China got their campaign back on track after last week’s scoreless draw with Hong Kong, with a 3-0 win over the Maldives, with the help of two goals from striker Yu Dabao.
Vietnam registered their first win with a 2-1 victory over Taiwan, with Tran Phi Son scoring the winner in stoppage time on his international debut.
The tiny Pacific nation of Guam held Oman to a goalless draw, rekindling their fairytale start to the qualifying competition.
Guam showed no signs of a hangover from their 6-0 thrashing away to Iran last week as they continued their unbeaten run at home against the more fancied Oman team.
The pair are level at the top of the Asian Group D standings with seven points each, although Oman have a game in hand.