A quartet of miserable performing sides means very few Asian sides can feel even close to certain about their slots in Russia after Tuesday’s fourth match day.
Thailand, Iraq, and Qatar have failed to find a single point through three matches, while China is barely better thanks to a home draw with Iran.
We could see some separation from the pack at the top end and some lifelines at the bottom come Tuesday, however. No less than three matches pit teams with six or seven points.
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The day begins with the probable best of the bunch. Ageless Tim Cahill and Australia dropped their first points of qualifying in Thursday’s draw in Saudi Arabia, and now host Japan in Melbourne. The Samurai Blue has rebounded from an opening day upset at home to UAE, but those were expected wins against Thailand and Iraq. Australia is a different story.
No players have scored more in qualifying than UAE‘s Ahmed Khalil and Saudi Arabia‘s Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, with 14 goals each. Both will aim to go atop Group B, hopeful of an Australia loss or tie.
Over in Group A, things are only a little less congested between the Top Four. World Cup veteran sides Iran and South Korea will tangle. The hosting Taegeuk Warriors have yet to lose in qualifying and the same can be said for Team Melli. Should be a fun one.
As for the lifelines, Iraq hosts Thailand and a loser would be a minimum of six points adrift of even a World Cup playoff spot. Qatar needs to hold serve against a Syria side which could sneak into the Group A discussion with a road win.
Australia vs. Japan — 5 a.m. ET
Iraq vs. Thailand — 8:30 a.m. ET
Uzbekistan vs. China — 9 a.m. ET
Iran vs. South Korea — 10:45 a.m. ET
Qatar vs. Syria — Noon ET
Saudi Arabia vs. UAE — 1:45 p.m. ET
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) The Colorado Rapids have named former Major League Soccer player and longtime assistant Robin Fraser as their head coach.
Fraser steps in for Conor Casey, who’s been the interim coach since the team fired Anthony Hudson in May. Colorado is 7-14-6 and at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Fraser’s first match in charge will be Saturday at the New York Red Bulls.
The 52-year-old Fraser has served as an assistant coach at Toronto FC since 2015.
Fraser was the fourth overall pick in the 1996 MLS player draft by the Los Angeles Galaxy. Over his career, Fraser suited up for the Galaxy, the Rapids and the Columbus Crew. He said in a statement Sunday he considers Colorado home because he’s so familiar with the soccer community.
Rapids general manager Padraig Smith said Fraser has a “deep knowledge of what it takes to be successful in MLS.”
Mauricio Pochettino might’ve understood Tottenham Hotspur dropping points last week at Man City, but he didn’t plan on not taking anything from Newcastle United on Sunday at home.
“You need the capacity to step up in this type of situation but we didn’t show that quality today,” Pochettino said. “When the ball arrives in the last third you need something from the talent and quality we have there and today we didn’t have that.”
[ RECAP: Spurs 0-1 Newcastle | Bruce reacts ]
So that’s pretty straight forward, but Pochettino was less happy to answer the question of why he didn’t start Christian Eriksen. Some (read: this writer) have questioned the philosophy of putting a man you may sell for $50 million on the bench. Either put him in the Starting XI and risk him, or leave him off the 18.
“When you lose, the players who don’t play are the best. With Christian we win and we lose a lot of games. I accept that situation is like this. If we won 3-0 today no one talks about different names.
“I cannot find excuses about the transfer window being open to justify that performance or the result. We cannot find the way to be solid and to have consistency for different reasons. I am going to be happy in 10 days after we play Arsenal when the transfer window closes in Europe and to have the player involved until the transfer window again in January.”
We’re not gonna read too much into it, but it does sound a bit like Pochettino is daring teams to bid for Eriksen. Would it make sense for him to hold onto Eriksen until January before cashing in?
Steve Bruce heard a lot of the criticism from fans upon his hiring at Newcastle United, and it rang out louder after the Magpies started 0-2 including a loss at newly-promoted Norwich City.
[ RECAP: Spurs 0-1 Newcastle ]
He may well hear plenty more down the road, but the childhood Newcastle supporter was feeling relieved and maybe redeemed after a fortunate and wonderful 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. From the BBC:
“We came to this fantastic stadium, this fantastic club and we performed. I mean, to say I ‘cannot even do a warm up’ is mad. I have managed 900-odd games and over the years you would think there would be some sort of respect but I go back to the fact that whoever took over from Rafa Benitez was going to get the abuse.”
Newcastle faces struggling Watford at St. James’ Park next week, and another result will ease a lot of nerves (though certainly not all of them.
Raul Jimenez’s penalty seven minutes into stoppage time gave Wolves a point with a 1-1 draw against Burnley on Sunday at the Molineux Stadium.
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Wolves now have three draws in three matches, while Burnley has four points.
- We’re paying rent in Ashley Barnes‘ world — Known most for his combustible, some-would-say dirty nature, the Burnley striker now has four goals this early season and more than one, including Sunday’s opener, have been bangers.
- Nuno’s men could use a break — Wolves fought well, but you can tell the Europa League schedule has heavily taxed their spirit. How tired are they? Here are the thoughts of an exhausted Raul Jimenez, and you can read the “Thank you, God” inside them –> “I think [the penalty] is the right decision. When I get in possession he tried to kick the ball, then he kicked me. It came at a good moment for us.”
- Don’t ever bet against Sean Dyche — We’ve written it 100 times. The big man can get a result from anywhere, at any time.
Burnley was easily the better unit over the first 45 minutes, and was rewarded with a goal even after VAR ruled one out.
Barnes chested a neatly-headed flick into shooting position and unleashed a missile that zipped past Rui Patricio for a 1-0 lead.
Both sides began the second half brightly, with Morgan Gibbs-White lashed a shot offf the outside of the netting and Barnes unable to get purchase on a ball over the top of the Wolves back line.
But Erik Pieters cut down Jimenez in the box late to set the Mexican international up for a win.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]