The second round of the second stage of the Asian qualifiers for WC 2026 saw several exciting matches, with favorites like Japan, Australia, and South Korea emerging victorious. However, Croatian coach Igor Štimac’s India suffered a surprise defeat at home to Katra, losing 0-3.
In Group C in Shenzhen, South Korea beat China 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick by Tottenham striker Son Heung-min. Son scored the latest goal in the last minute of the first half with a header, leaving China struggling to keep up. In the same group, Thailand secured their first victory by beating Singapore 3-1, with Suphanat Mueanta scoring twice.
In Group B in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia hosted Japan and Syria. The Japanese emerged victorious with a 5-0 win over Syria, while North Korea secured their first win of the campaign by beating Myanmar 6-1 in Yangon.
Australia celebrated away to Palestine with a high-quality match that ended in a 1-0 Harry Souttar goal in the 18th minute. Earlier in this group, Bangladesh and Lebanon played to a draw of 1-1.
Iraq emerged victorious over hosts Vietnam in Group F with a late winner from Mohanad Ali after six minutes of stoppage time. Meanwhile, the Philippines and Indonesia drew 1-1 in Manila. In Group E, Hong Kong came back twice to draw 2-2 with Turkmenistan before Uzbekistan and Iran settled for a tie at 2-2 in Tashkent after leading early on due to goals from Rezeian and Taremi but eventually saving hosts from defeat by Urunov and Sergejev’s efforts.
In Group G in Islamabad, Tajikistan won handily against Pakistan with a final scoreline of 6-1 while Branko Ivanković’s Oman fell victim to an embarrassing loss near Kyrgyzstan with no goals scored against their opponents.
Overall, these matches provided excitement and tension as teams vied for spots on the World Cup roster.