• Kyodo


Top seed Japan has been given a relatively easy task of booking a place at next year’s Athens Olympics after being drawn in Group B on Saturday with Bahrain, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates for the final round of the Asian qualifiers.

“We are pleased with the draw,” said a spokesman for the Japan Football Association. “No game is easy at this stage and all the teams are worthy of their place and deserve respect, but we will approach the games with confidence and believe we can qualify.”

The UAE, which overcame Thailand in the second round, was also satisfied with the draw and confident of challenging Japan for the top spot.

“We know all about the local teams and believe we can get good results against them. Japan are strong but we will prepare hard and approach the games with hope,” UAE official Youssef Abdulla said.

Meanwhile, second seed South Korea was drawn in the so-called group of death against China, Malaysia, and Iran in Group A while Group C sees third seeds Kuwait play Saudi Arabia, Oman and either North Korea or Iraq, who have yet to complete their second-round tie.

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