Asia's 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifers
Group A - Round 4 - Day 3
Azadi Stadium, Tehran, Iran
Seyed Rahmati – Khosro Heydari, Ehsan Haji Safi (46’ Mohamed Reza Khalatabari), Hadi Aghili, Seyed Hosseini – Hossein Mahini (54’ Ashkan Dejagah), Mehrdad Pouladi, Andranik Temourian, Javad Nekounam – Ali Karimi, Karim Ansari Fard (90’ Mazyar Zare)
Qassim Burhan – Mohammed Kasola, Marcone, Ibrahim Majed, Ibrahim Al Ghanem – Adel Lami (46’ Majdi Siddiq), Fabio Cesar (90+3’ Yousef Ahmed), Talal Al Bloushi, Younis Ali – Khalfan Ibrahim, Sebastian Soria
Qatar revived their hopes of securing an automatic qualification spot for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a goalless draw against Iran in Tehran.
Pressure was mounting on Paulo Autuori's men after they suffered a 4-1 home defeat against South Korea four days earlier, and having to play in front of 100,000 fans at Azadi stadium against the west Asian giants Iran, who kicked off this stage with a 1-0 away victory over Uzbekistan, all odds was against Al Annabi.
But with Autuori making a number of changes to the starting-11 who faced Korea, and with the team giving one of their most balanced performances in the recent years, they came back form the lion's den with a golden point that might make the difference at the end of the qualifiers.
The home team's best chance in the first half came in the 30th minute when Javad Nekounam met a long throw in from Ehsan Haji Safi (Asia's Rory Delap) with a powerful shot that hit the bar.
Despite pressure from the home team, Al Annabi went close to taking a surprise lead in the 36th minute, but Seyed Rahmati made a brilliant save to stop Marcone's header.
Iran's coach Carlos Quieroz sent in Ashkan Dejagah in the second half, and the Wolfsburg's winger was a constant threat on the right flank, but the Qatari team's defense was always on top and Burhan ended the game with a clean sheet.
Earlier, South Korea went top of group A with six points after a 3-0 home victory over Lebanon. The East Asians represented Asia in the last seven World Cups and are firm favorites to finish top of this group.
Qatar's key to make their maiden appearance in World Cup Finals will be winning their three home matches against Uzbekistan, Iran, Lebanon. Thirteen points are more than enough to finish in the top three, and may be in top two. They now have more than four months to get ready for their next qualifying match against Uzbekistan, which will take place in Doha on October 16th.
Group A Standings