Japan had the chance to be the first team to qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday night. On paper it looked straight forward but it seems they underestimated a rejuvenated Jordan side and went down to a surprise defeat.
In all likelihood Japan will still become the first team to qualify but the result in Amman mixes up Group B and heaps extra pressure on 3rd place Australia.
The 2-1 win for Jordan was all the more remarkable considering the respective tie in Japan ended with a 6-0 hammering.
Japan had been in control of the match during the first half with only the crossbar denying them a lead. However in injury time Khalil Bani Attiah leaped above the defence to direct a header past the Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
The “Blue Samurai” continued to dominate play in the 2nd half but were again caught on the counter with 60 minutes gone. Ahmed Hayel collected a loose ball and set off like Usain Bolt down the right hand side before cutting into the Japan box then passing the ball under Kawashima into the net. The crowd went wild while the Jordanian bench looked shocked.
The Japanese stepped up the pace in pursuit of a draw and managed to grab one back in the 69th minute through Manchester United’s, Shinji Kagawa. Then went on to concede a penalty 90 seconds later. Disaster looked imminent.
Japanese veteran, Yasuhito Endo took the spot kick but was denied by Amer Sabbah, sealing a vital 3 points.
In group B’s other match Australia narrowly avoided a shocking upset against Oman.Tim Cahill and a 25-yard strike by Brett Holman in the 85th minute salvages a poor home draw.
In Group A, Uzbekistan beat Lebanon 1 -0 at home to consolidate their position at the top while South Korea struggled to a 2-1 win over Oman in Seoul.
Competition should be fierce in the last matches of Asian qualification. With only the top two teams from each group guaranteeing qualification. The two 3rd place teams will then play-off, with the winner then playing-off against the 5th place team in the CONMEBOL table (currently a fight between Venezuela, Uruguay and Chile).