Japan and Saudi Arabia are the latest countries to qualify for the men’s soccer World Cup in Qatar later this year.
the monkey beat Australia 2-0 away on Thursday after two late goals by Kaoru Mitoma, which was enough to secure one of two direct places from the B-group in the Asian qualifiers. As additional salt in the wound for the Australian team, the result meant that Saudi Arabia took the second World Cup place.
The Saudis had a four-point lead over Australia ahead of Thursday, and thanks to Japan’s victory, they were able to celebrate the World Cup ticket even before their own qualifying match away against China.
Japan made its World Cup debut in 1998 – and has since participated in all World Cup finals. Qatar is making its seventh appearance. Saudi Arabia, for its part, will make its sixth World Cup.
Australia is instead forced into an uncertain playoff to reach the World Cup. It requires first victory against the third in the second Asian qualifying group, and then another win in a decisive playoff match against the fifth in the South American qualifiers.
Iran and South Korea have already qualified for the World Cup from Asia.