Australia, Iran and South Korea qualify for Brazil
Australia secured their place at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil Tuesday with a late strike from Josh Kennedy firing them to a tense 1-0 win over an under-strength Iraq at Stadium Australia.
It was an unconvincing victory in front of a sell-out 80,000 crowd, but ensured the Socceroos will appear at their third consecutive World Cup, alongside Japan who are already through from Asian Group B qualifying.
The result put Australia on 13 points, out of reach of Oman (nine points) and Jordan (seven points) who play later on Wednesday. Australia wasted countless chances in wet conditions before coach Holger Osieck replaced a visibly angry Tim Cahill with Kennedy in the 77th minute. But the towering Nagoya Grampus striker justified the substitution when he saved the day with a clinical 83rd-minute header that sent the crowd wild.
‘I’m prouwd of everybody. It’s been a really hard campaign but we showed our mental strength,’ captain Lucas Neill said. ‘I’m sorry it wasn’t pretty but we beat them. Meanwhile, Iran won 1-0 at South Korea on Tuesday in a result that secured both teams a spot at next year’s World Cup, but the hosts only just scraped through and had to wait until after the final whistle to know their fate. They progressed by virtue of goal difference.
Uzbekistan came from behind to win 5-1 at home against Qatar in a simultaneous game. The storming finish ultimately came up short, leaving the Uzbeks on a plus-five goal difference while South Korea was plus-six.