DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Japan and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday secured their places alongside South Korea as qualifiers from the Asian region for the men’s Olympic soccer tournament in London this year.
The UAE, which has never qualified in eight previous attempts, fought back from 2-0 down to beat Uzbekistan 3-2 in Tashkent and head Group B.
Japan, who failed to qualify in 2008 after appearing in each of the previous four Olympics, secured top place in Group C by beating Bahrain 2-0 in Tokyo, a result that snuffed out Bahrain’s faint hopes of a play-off spot.
South Korea had already booked their place ahead of the final round of matches and finished their Group A campaign in Seoul with a 0-0 draw against 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.
That draw meant Oman progressed to the Asian play-offs even before they fought out a 1-1 draw with Saudi Arabia in Dammam.
Uzbekistan and Syria, 3-0 winners over Malaysia in a Group C match played in Amman in Jordan because of civil unrest at home, are the other sides to reach those play-offs as the second-placed sides in their respective four-team groups.
The play-off matches take place in Vietnam on 25, 27 and 29 March with the winner facing Senegal in Coventry, England on April 23 for the final spot in the 16-team event.
Australia and Iraq fought out a goalless draw in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon in group B on the Central Coast of Australia, a result that left the home side propping up the table.
South Korea, Japan and the UAE join Gabon, Morocco, Egypt, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain, Switzerland, Belarus and hosts Britain as those sides already through to The Olympic tournament.
Two qualifiers from the Central and North America region and one from Oceania remain to be decided. (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)