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Nov 14, 2012

Japan near qualification

Japan's 2-1 win in Oman has left them on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Shinji Okazaki was Japan's hero with a last-minute strike to win the game after Ahmed Mubarak's deflected free-kick cancelled out Hiroshi Kiyotake's first-half opener.

Japan, ever-presents at the World Cup since 1998, now have 13 points from five games and are eight points ahead of second-placed Australia having played one more game.

Jordan's bid suffered a setback with a 1-0 loss against Iraq in Doha. Hammadi Ahmed scored an 86th minute goal to grab victory and move Iraq level with the Socceroos.

Uzbekistan, who have never qualified for a World Cup finals, went to the top of a congested Group A with a surprise 1-0 success over Iran in Tehran.

The central Asian country are a point clear of three teams with two games remaining after Ulugbek Bakaev turned in Server Djepararov's 71st-minute free-kick.

Defeat left Iran locked with South Korea, who have a game in hand, and Qatar, who edged Lebanon 1-0.

Andres Quintana netted a 75th-minute winner for Qatar, hosts for the 2022 World Cup, to keep them firmly in the hunt to reach Brazil.

The top two teams in each group progress directly to the World Cup finals with the third-placed teams forced into a two-legged play-off.

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