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Upsets galore in Qatar
by Paul Kennedy, January 9th, 2011 3:46PM

TAGS:  asian cup, china, japan


[ASIAN CUP] Favorite Japan needed a late equalizer from Maya Yoshida to settle for a 1-1 tie with lowly Jordan Sunday in their opening Group B game at the Asian Cup in Qatar. In other shock results, host Qatar lost to Uzbekistan, 2-0, and 2007 runner-up Saudi Arabia fell to Syria, 2-1.

Japan achieved some excellent results last year after the arrival of Italian Alberto Zaccheroni, but the Blue Samurai fell behind in the 45th minute when Hasan Abdel Fattah's shot deflected in off Yoshida.

"I am not satisfied with the result, especially in the first half," Zaccheroni said. "We must accelerate the speed of our play. We failed to finish on chances. I expect other Asian teams will fight like Jordan. We must readjust ourselves with that in mind."

Uzbekistan stunned a capacity crowd of 40,000 at the Khalifa Stadium on second-half goals from Odil Akhmedov and Server Djeparov.

The best chance for Qatar in the tournament opener came when Brazilian-born Cesar hit a free kick off the post in the 38th minute. French coach Bruno Metsu started a team that included two players born in Kuwait and one each from Ghana, Senegal, Uruguay and Brazil.

Looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, Syria won on a pair of goals by midfielder Abdulrazak Al Husein.

UPDATE: Saudi Arabia promptly fired Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro and replaced him with Nasser Al-Johar. In similar circumstances, Al-Johar took over after the first game of the 2002 Asian Cup and led the Saudis to the final.

China beat 10-man Kuwait, 2-0, on Saturday thanks to goals by defender Zhang Linpeng and Deng Zhuoxiang on a free kick.

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