Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Socceroos revel in Asian Cup debut-match victory

AFP , SINGAPORE

Taiwan's Kao Hao-chieh kicks the ball as Iran's Ali Daei looks on during their Asian Cup 2007 qualifying match in Tehran on Wednesday. Iran defeated Taiwan 4-0.

PHOTO: AP

Australia was buoyant yesterday after a fighting come-from-behind win against Bahrain in Asian Cup qualifying which saw all the region's World Cup-bound teams score victories.

In their debut match as an Asian nation after joining the Asian Football Confederation in January, the Socceroos proved they can be a regional force, upsetting the 2004 semi-finalists 3-1 in Manama.

Archie Thompson, considered surplus to requirements by club PSV Eindhoven for their Champions League clash with Lyon, took out his disappointment on the Bahrainis, scoring the crucial equalizer in the 54th minute.

He was joined on the scoresheet by inspirational captain Josip Skoko, who plays for Stoke City, and Ahmad Elrich.

"We were behind 1-0 and we knew it was going to be a difficult match and credit to the boys -- we fought hard and I think we deserved to win," Thompson told Australian television.

It was a good workout for Australia, who head to Germany in June for their first World Cup finals in 32 years.

They have been drawn in a group with Brazil and defending Asian champions Japan, who crushed India 6-0 in their Asian Cup qualifying match.

Asia's other World Cup teams all sealed comfortable victories.

South Korea will take heart from a 2-1 away win in tough Group B against Syria while fellow Group B side Iran hammered Taiwan 4-0. Saudi Arabia also put four past Yemen.

An injury-plagued China, meanwhile, struggled against the Palestinians before emerging a 2-0 winner thanks to goals from Du Wei and Li Weifeng.

Iraq, billed as one of the fastest improving sides on the continent and the defending West Asian champions, lost 2-0 to Singapore, giving the Southeast Asian champions a massive shot in the arm.

In other games, Uzbekistan beat Bangladesh 5-0, Hong Kong lost to Qatar 3-0 and the United Arab Emirates beat Oman 1-0.

Jordan beat Pakistan 3-0 while Lebanon and Kuwait played out a 1-1 draw.

Another round of qualifying games will be played on March 1.

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