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 By John Duerden

Edgardo Bauza replaces Van Marwijk as Saudi Arabia boss for World Cup

Jason Dasey and John Wilkinson preview next month's World Cup qualifying playoff between Syria and Australia.

Just over a week after guiding Saudi Arabia to a fifth World Cup, Bert van Marwijk has been replaced as head coach by Edgardo Bauza.

In a shock move, Argentina's Bauza leaves his post in charge of United Arab Emirates to make the short trip to occupy the hot seat in Riyadh only nine months ahead of Russia 2018.

Van Marwijk, who took his native Netherlands to the final of the 2010 tournament, was appointed in August 2015 and sealed a place in Russia 2018 on Sept. 5 with a 1-0 home win over Japan...

Japan book World Cup place, China win while Koreans draw with Iran

Jason Dasey and David Mitchell recap Australia's defeat to Japan and evaluate the Socceroos' prospects for qualifying.
Japan qualified for their sixth straight World Cup following their 2-0 win over Australia.
Australia's Jackson Irvine credits Japan's game plan and still feels Australia can qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Japan booked their berth at next year's World Cup finals as Vahid Halilhodzic's side handed Australia a 2-0 defeat on Thursday evening that guarantees the Samurai Blue top spot in Group B of Asia's qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.

Takuma Asano gave the Japanese the lead four minutes before the half-time break when he was left unmarked to slide Yuto Nagatomo's cross beyond Mat Ryan to put Japan in front after Mathew Leckie had earlier hit the post for the Socceroos.

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Eight minutes from time...

UAE hope Europe training will give 2018 World Cup qualifying boost

United Arab Emirates head coach Edgardo Bauza will be forced to select his squad for the final two qualifying matches for Russia 2018 only after watching his players' performances at their club training camps in Europe.

With temperatures in the Gulf well above 40 degrees C, clubs will prepare for the new domestic league season in northern Europe. The Argentine will travel to watch his national players go through their paces.

The U.A.E. meet Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29 before their final qualifying match...

Qatar hand South Korea shock defeat; Japan and China waste leads in draws

Japan failed to distance themselves atop Group B as Iraq held the Blue Samurai to a 1-1 draw.

The progress of Japan to the World Cup finals hit a roadblock on Tuesday evening as a second-half goal from Mahdi Kamil earned Iraq a 1-1 draw that leaves Vahid Halilhodzic's side in an ever-tightening battle for an automatic berth at Russia 2018.

Yuya Osako scored eight minutes into the game in Tehran to put the Japanese ahead. But Mahdi's goal for the already-eliminated Iraqis complicates Japan's road to the finals.

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The four-time Asian champions are now just one point clear of Saudi Arabia...