Seoul, Aug 31 : Asian football's leading teams kick off their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns on Friday, with Japan, South Korea and Australia all harboring expectations, not merely hope, of reaching the showpiece event in Brazil.
All three of those nations are at home in their opening fixtures of the group-stage third round, with Japan having the most challenging task against 2010 World Cup qualifiers North Korea, which is also making its first appearance in qualifying for 2014. Australia hosts Thailand and South Korea is at home to Lebanon.
Bahrain was the other nation to receive byes through to the third round and it begins with a home game against 2022 World Cup host Qatar. AP