SEOUL (AP) — While players from Japan, Australia and Syria were extending winning streaks, a defender from Kyrgyzstan was having some difficulty handling a new assignment in Asian qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
Kyrgyzstan was forced to play a second-round qualifier with a defender in goal on Monday because all three of the national team’s goalkeepers were self-isolating following a COVID-19 outbreak.
Aizar Akmatov instead played between the posts, allowing one goal in a 1-0 loss in Group F to Mongolia, which is ranked 192nd of FIFA’s 211 teams. Oyunbaataryn Mijiddorj scored in the 34th minute for Mongolia, which posted its second win in eight matches but remained in
At the top of the group, Japan beat Tajikistan 4-1 for its seventh victory in seven matches in this stage.
Japan had already secured a place in the third round of qualifying.
Kyogo Furuhashi, Takumi Minamino, Kento Hashimoto and Hayao Kawabe all scored for Japan, while Ehsoni Panshanbe scored for Tajikistan – the first goal Japan has conceded in 549 minutes. Syria became the second team to advance to the third round with a 3-0 win over Guam in Sharjah, its seventh successive win in Group A.
Only the eight group winners progress automatically to the third round, which is set to start in September, along with the four best second-place teams.
China is eight points behind Syria and can only hope to finish second in Group A despite a 2-0 win against the Philippines. The goals came from Wu Lei and Wu Xinghan.