AFC: Iran, Japan among Asia’s most memorable qualifying duels

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Tasnim – KUALA LUMPUR, As fans around the Continent eagerly await the kick-off of Round 2 of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, recalls Iran and Japan match among the most memorable qualifying duels from the past.

A true Asian football classic, this FIFA World Cup France 98 play-off featured some of the greats of a golden era going toe-to-toe in a match of career-defining stakes.

Asian icons like Ali Daei, Hidetoshi Nakata, Khodadad Azizi and Kazuyoshi Miura were the chief protagonists in nearly two hours of unparalleled drama in neutral Johor Bahru, Malaysia, as two of the Continent’s heavyweights looked for the win they needed to reach the promised land of the World Cup Finals.

After the lead changed hands twice in a gripping 2-2 draw at the end of 90 minutes, it was Masayuki Okano who sent Japan to their first ever global Finals with a 118th-minute golden goal – his second and final goal in international football.

Beaten on the night, Iran’s finest hour came 13 days later in a similarly dramatic Inter-Confederation play-off victory against Australia.

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