Saudi Arabia suffered the first loss in its campaign in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers against its host Japan 2-0 today, Tuesday, but retained the lead of its group.
Takumi Minamino (Liverpool striker) and Junya Ito scored in each half as second-placed Japan reduced the gap with Saudi Arabia to one point in Group B.
After 6 victories and a draw with Australia, coach Herve Renard’s team suffered its first defeat in the group at Saitama Stadium, to stop its tally at 19 points before two rounds, compared to 18 for Japan, and 14 for Australia, which faces Oman later today.
The first two teams from the first and second groups qualify directly for the finals in Qatar, while the two third-placed teams will meet in an Asian playoff to determine the team that will compete in the international playoffs.
Saudi Arabia, which missed the efforts of leader Salman Al-Faraj and its top scorer in the qualifiers, Saleh Al-Shehri, due to injury, needed to win today to qualify for qualification.
Japan achieved its sixth consecutive victory in the group, and avenged the loss in Jeddah 1-0 last October.