By Talek Harris (AFP) – Jun 23, 2011
SINGAPORE — China crashed out of London 2012 Olympics qualifying in controversial circumstances while Asian champions Japan survived a scare to make it safely through to the next stage.
Australia and South Korea also booked their places in the final qualifying round alongside resurgent Malaysia, while United Arab Emirates dashed North Korean hopes with a narrow 2-1 aggregate win.
But the biggest casualty of the night was China, who had a player sent off and a goal disallowed in Muscat before humble Oman scored three goals in extra time to run out 4-1 aggregate winners.
China, fighting to overturn a shock 1-0 deficit from the first leg in Shanghai, lost midfielder Zhang Linpeng to injury after just four minutes but managed to level the tie through Wu Xi deep into the second half.
But Cao Yunding was red-carded for a late tackle just three minutes later, before the linesman's intervention ruled out a dramatic stoppage-time winner when Wu's close-range strike was flagged offside.
During extra time in baking conditions, Hussain Al Hadhri scored twice and Yaqoob Abdul Karim added another to extend China's miserable international football record.
"The weather was hot and the players are not used to this type of weather, and in extra time a lot of the players were suffering and we could not organise ourselves properly," said assistant coach Li Bing.
"It is shame we have lost the chance to play in the next phase, but we have learnt a lot from this match."
Saki Oriki eased Japanese jitters in Kuwait when he netted first at Mohammed Al Hamad Stadium, extending their advantage to 4-1. But the nerves returned when Kuwait scored twice in the second half to run the Asian giants close.
A 1-1 draw in Jordan was enough for South Korea after they convincingly won the first leg in Seoul. But Australia had no concerns as they slotted four unanswered goals past Yemen to run up a 7-0 aggregate score.
Iraq overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit to advance 2-1 at the expense of arch-rivals Iran, while Southeast Asian champions Malaysia beat Lebanon to go through.
Among other results, Saudi Arabia finished 6-1 winners against Vietnam, Qatar ousted India and Uzbekistan booted out Hong Kong.
This week's 12 winning teams will be split into three groups of four for final qualifying, with the three top sides all gaining automatic entry to the London Olympics.
The second-placed teams go into a three-way round robin, with the winner playing off against a side from the African confederation for another ticket to the Games.
Men's football is played as an under-23 tournament at the Olympics, although the rules allow for three over-age players.
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