The final round of Asian World Cup qualifying gets underway again tomorrow, with five matches on the docket. In previous years, the qualification picture has cleared up pretty quickly with the usual suspects separating themselves from the pack. The landscape started to change in 2010 when Korea DPR capitalized on poor showings by Iran and Saudi Arabia to qualify directly. That said, the other finalists made easy work of qualification- mathematically clinching on June 6th, 2009 with two match days to spare.
The numbers were startling, only one match lost between the three (Japan lost to Australia on the final match day) and a combined goal differential of +24.
The final round in 2006 was even less competitive with the best third place teams, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, amassing a meager 4 and 5 points respectively from six games.