2015 AFC Asian Cup: UAE, Iran clinch quarterfinal berths, Japan leads crucial Group D race

Santino Honasan on Jan 18, 2015 02:20 AM
2015 AFC Asian Cup: UAE, Iran Clinch Quarterfinal Berths, Ja
(Photo Courtesy of www.afcasiancup.com) UAE's Ali Mabkhout scored the fastest goal in Asian Cup history in their win over Bahrain

Two more teams secured spots in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup Quarterfinals as the United Arab Emirates and Iran score their second Group C wins.

UAE recorded their second straight win and advanced to the next round of competition following their 2-1 win over Bahrain last Thursday, January 15 at the Canberra Stadium.

Striker Ali Mabkhout made Asian Cup history by recording the fastest goal in competition history, 14 seconds from the opening whistle to give the Al-Abad a very early 1-0 lead. Bahrain’s John Okunwanne gave their team some hope after managing to score an equalizer in the 26th, but teammate Mohamed Husain accidentally sealed Bahrain’s fate in the 74th mark to give the United Arab Emirates the 2-1 win.

Thursday also saw Iran move into the quarterfinals after defeating Qatar, 1-0 at the Stadium Australia in Sydney. After a scoreless first half, striker Sardar Azmoun found the back of the net in the 52nd minute for his third international goal and ultimately the Iran victory.

UAE and Iran sit atop the standings of Group C, both with two wins and six points. Bahrain and Qatar on the other hand, have been seen their Asian Cup bids come to an end as both nations have been eliminated from the competition with two losses each.

Iran and the UAE will square off on Monday, January 19th to determine who advances as the winner and runners-up of Group C.

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Defending champions Japan remain at the top of the Group D standings with at 1-0 win over Iraq last Friday, January 16 at the Brisbane Stadium.

Star midfielder Keisuke Honda opened the scoring for Japan, converting on a 23rd minute penalty kick that gave the Samurai Blue an early lead. Honda’s penalty ended up being the only goal in the match, as both squads came up scoreless in the second half to secure Japan’s second win in the 2015 Asian Cup tournament.

Friday also saw Jordan keep their quarterfinals bid alive with a dominating 5-1 win over Palestine. Yousef Ahmad kicked things off for the Al-Nashama with a 32nd minute goal, but it was 23-year old striker Hamza Al-Dardour who stole the show, making the Palestinian defenses pay by scoring the next four goals for Jordan. Al-Dardour’s offensive display makes him only the fourth player in Asian Cup history to record four goals in a single match.

Jaka Ihbeisheh also managed to make it to the record books as he scored the first ever Asian Cup goal for the debuting tournament-debuting Palestine squad via an 84th minute goal.

Japan remain as the frontrunners in Group D with two wins and six points. Iraq and Jordan are in the middle of the pack, both with one win, one loss and three points. Palestine trails the group with two losses.

Group D’s final match day on Tuesday, January 20 will feature Japan taking on Jordan and Iraq meeting Palestine. These matches will be crucial for all teams involved, with multiple scenarios possibly playing out to decide who advances to the next round.

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