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 By John Duerden

Another UAE Panenka nightmare for Japan while Australia cruise past Iraq

If you want to make friends with football fans in Japan in the near future it's probably best not to mention the United Arab Emirates or Panenka penalties -- though a reference to needing goalline technology will be well-received.

Emotions are running high in the Land of the Rising Sun after losing 2-1 at home to UAE on Thursday evening in the opening game of the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup. Losing the first game in Group B was not part of the Saitama Stadium script but at...

 By Paul Murphy

Thailand suffer World Cup qualifying heartbreak in Saudi Arabia loss

Thailand striker Teerasil vs Saudi Arabia
Teerasil, right, was outstanding up front for an impressive Thailand side in Riyadh.

Thailand suffered a heart-breaking opening to the final round of their 2018 AFC World Cup qualifying campaign as a late penalty from Saudi Arabia saw them slip to a controversial 1-0 defeat in Riyadh on Thursday night.

Kiatisuk Senamuang's side had been the better side for much of the Group B game and created some fine chances. But, with Thailand having been denied two penalties in the first half, referee Fu Ming awarded the hosts a spot kick with less than 10 minutes remaining and Nawaf Al-Abid...

 By John Duerden

Top five matchups in 2018 AFC World Cup final round qualification

Now that the draw for the 2018 AFC World Cup final qualifying round is out, it is time to take a closer look into which of the region's top players will be up against one another as the games play out.

There will be some fascinating matchups over the coming months, as the best teams on the continent fight it out over the course of 10 games.

Only four Asian nations will be guaranteed World Cup spots, with another two facing more playoffs for a chance to make it to Russia 2018.

The matches begin in...

Thailand's Zico wants good WCQ start against Saudis, wary of Japan trio

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and David Mitchell look ahead to Thailand's upcoming AFC World Cup qualifying campaign.

Thailand's head coach Kiatisuk 'Zico' Senamuang insists his side are ready to spring a surprise despite being drawn in a tough group B for the final phase of AFC qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Thais have been placed in what looks the more difficult of the two qualifying groups, facing Asian champions Australia, regular World Cup finalists Japan and Middle Eastern heavyweights Saudi Arabia. They also have to play Iraq again -- having faced them in the previous round -- and the United...