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Aussies held by Uzbekistan in Olympic campaign
Published : 27 Nov 2011 14:16:54
Goal-shy Australia's Olympic qualifying hopes were dealt a blow by their third successive 0-0 draw Sunday as Japan and South Korea both stayed on course with narrow wins.
Olyroos coach Aurelio Vidmar said he was considering ordering extra shooting practice after the Aussies were held at home by Uzbekistan, after similar bore draws against UAE and Iraq.
The complete absence of goals has put Australia under severe pressure at the halfway stage with UAE and Iraq both capable of leap-frogging them into second place in Group B when they play later on Sunday.
The top teams from three groups gain an automatic ticket to London 2012, while the second-placed sides enter a round-robin with the prize of a play-off against an African nation.
"Maybe it's time we stopped doing tactical work at training and concentrated a bit more on shooting," Vidmar said. "We seem to be lacking that little bit of extra finesse (in attack).
"We get in front of the penalty box time and time again, but the wall pass goes too long or the through ball hits the striker on the back of the neck instead of going in front of him.
"It's the small detail that's letting us down."
At Sydney's Parramatta Stadium, the Australians' lack of cutting edge in front of goal again proved their undoing against the resilient and hard-nosed Uzbeks, who earned the home team's ire with their time-wasting tactics.
While Uzbekistan retained the group lead, the Olyroos have now played four-and-a-half hours of football without finding the net, which has left them struggling to keep pace halfway through qualifying.
In Tokyo, Borussia Monchengladbach summer signing Yuki Otsu's 86th-minute winner gave Japan a 2-1 win over Syria and the outright lead in Group A with a maximum nine points.
Striker Otsu got on the end of a Yusuke Higa cross to settle it for the Japanese after Omar Al Suma's solo effort had cancelled out defender Mizuki Hamada's first-half opener.
"I felt Higa would send a nice cross to me. Since I went to Germany, I learned that I must be always ready for a cross. We needed a goal as soon as possible, so I was ready for it," said Otsu, 21.
Meanwhile South Korea needed a first-half penalty as they edged Saudi Arabia 1-0 to stay top of Group A.
Cho Young-Cheol put his 33rd-minute spot-kick past Saudi 'keeper Hussein Shaian after defender Ahmed Walibi's foul, stretching South Korea's group lead to four points ahead of second-placed Oman's game with Qatar.
Southeast Asian Games champions Malaysia were in action in Kuala Lumpur against Bahrain among Sunday's other games.