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There is still much to do on the Road to Qatar 2022 in the second round of the Asian Qualifiers and the remaining matchdays will determine the 12 teams who will advance to the third round of the Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which will also confirm their tickets to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Only the top team from each of the eight groups is guaranteed passage into the next phase of qualifying for Qatar 2022, with the four best second-placed sides to join them.
However, with Qatar having qualified as hosts, the fifth second-placed best team will advance to the third round of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers should the West Asians emerge as Group E winners.
A perfect five wins from five games marked Syria out not only as the leaders of Group A ahead of China PR but saw the West Asian nation stand tallest across the entirety of the qualifying phase with the best return to date.
Prior to the Asian Qualifiers being postponed, the Syrians put themselves in pole position to book their place in the next round of qualifying, sitting eight points ahead of Li Tie’s side although, with the Chinese having played one game fewer, the fight for berths in the third phase remains alive.
The Philippines, who pulled off a surprise 0-0 draw with the Chinese in Bacolod in October, 2019, are level on seven points with China, with the Maldives a point further adrift while Guam are out of contention.
Australia also have an unblemished record, winning their first four games in Group B to be in a strong position to advance to the next round.
Graham Arnold’s side are two points ahead of Kuwait despite having played one game fewer than the side from the Gulf, with the Socceroos already notching up wins against all of their opponents as they eye qualification for a fifth successive FIFA World Cup.
Jordan are also on 10 points but behind Kuwait on goal difference while Nepal (3) and Chinese Taipei (0) are fourth and fifth respectively.
Iraq - on 11 points - are two ahead of Bahrain in Group C but both nations have played five games to the four contested by the Islamic Republic of Iran, who sit in third spot on six points.
Team Melli head coach Dragan Skocic will be looking to close the five-point gap with the Iraqis once play resumes as the Central Asians look to qualify for a third successive FIFA World Cup Finals.
Hong Kong are fourth with five points while Cambodia only have a point to show from five matches.
In an extremely tight group, Uzbekistan are top with nine points from their first five games but lead Saudi Arabia by a solitary point, with Herve Renard’s side holding a game in hand on Vadim Abramov’s charges.
The Saudis face Yemen in the next round of matches and, with Uzbekistan not scheduled to play that matchday, the five-time FIFA World Cup qualifiers would move into pole position with a win over their West Asians.
Singapore are also in the mix with seven points from five matches while Yemen (five) and Palestine (four) are still within touching distance.