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Australia ends KSA's World Cup hopes
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 01 - 03 - 2012

Australia scored three goals in three minutes in a second-half burst to beat Saudi Arabia 4-2 here Wednesday and dash the Kingdom's hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil.
Saudi Arabia entered the game in second place in Group D, but the loss, combined with Oman's 2-0 win over Thailand, meant it dropped down to third while Oman progressed to the fourth round of Asian qualifying.
The defeat continues a poor run for the Saudis, who didn't qualify for South Africa 2010 and now have been eliminated at an even earlier stage of qualifying for Brazil 2014.
Saudi Arabia took a 2-1 lead deep into the match courtesy of first-half goals by midfielder Salem Al-Dawsari and striker Nassir Al-Shamrani, but were deflated by a 73rd minute strike by Harry Kewell and then Alex Brosque and Brett Emerton scored in quick succession before the 76th minute.
The goals left Saudi Arabia's coach Frank Rijkaard shaking his head in disbelief at the sudden reversal of fortune. “The equalizer, for us was like it was demoralizing the team,” Rijkaard said. “We had less confidence and couldn't keep on playing like we wanted.”
“If we had stayed true to our game maybe it would have been different,” Rijkaard told reporters as he sat next to a team official. “It's a sad moment for Saudi football and if you want to come out of a sad moment, you have to work very hard, so if I continue working there I will work really hard.”
Australia had already claimed one of the 10 places in the next round of qualifying.
Another Asian power team, South Korea, escaped the same fate as the Saudis by beating Kuwait 2-0. As it turned out, South Korea need not have worried about the result, as second-placed Lebanon lost 4-2 at the United Arab Emirates. Lebanon progressed to the final round anyway, finishing with 10 points against Kuwait's eight.
Qatar scored a late equalizer to draw 2-2 with Iran and advance despite Bahrain beating Indonesia 10-0.
In other games with no impact on fourth-round places: already-eliminated China had a 3-1 home win over a Jordan team that had booked its place in the next stage, Uzbekistan won 1-0 at Japan in a clash of the top teams in Group C, and Tajikistan secured its only point of third-round qualifying by drawing 1-1 at home against another also-ran in North Korea.
Iraq, which had already qualfied, routed Singapore 7-1.


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