Japan becomes first team to qualify for 2014 World Cup

Adam Pretty

It took a stoppage time penalty, but Japan got the result they needed on Wednesday to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.

One spot down, 30 to go. Japan became the first team to punch their ticket to Brazil on Tuesday with their 1-1 draw against Australia in AFC World Cup qualifying. The draw leaves them on 14 points in Group B, from which two teams qualify for the World Cup directly, while third-placed Jordan have seven points with just two games left to play. Iraq has five points with two games in hand and can match Japan's point total, but no other team can catch or pass them.

Japan had a chance to clinch a spot in the World Cup during the last round of qualifying, but came up short against Jordan. They nearly squandered their chance to finish off the job on Wednesday as well, conceding a late goal to Australia's Tommy Oar at home, but Japan drew a penalty in stoppage time which Keisuke Honda finished to steal a point for Japan.

The other four teams in Group B of Asian qualifying are all still very much alive and face a tough battle for the second qualifying place. Group A is less top-heavy, and nothing is expected to be decided there this week. Uzbekistan currently leads that group, while South Korea is behind by just one point with a game in hand.

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