Bahrain back in action after World Cup failure

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SINGAPORE - Bahrain have little time to dwell on the heartache of their World Cup play-off defeat to New Zealand at the weekend as they return home to host Yemen in a 2011 Asian Cup qualifier on Wednesday.

Bahrain coach Milan Macala successfully requested the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) move the match to Wednesday, an official FIFA fixture date, from the original in January in order to have a full squad available.

However, the Czech faces the task of lifting a squad who suffered a 1-0 aggregate defeat in their World Cup playoff in Wellington on Saturday, the second successive campaign they have missed out at that stage.

Bahrain, second in Group A on six points, are three clear of third place Yemen after two matches.

In the other Group A match, leaders Japan will be confident of victory against bottom side Hong Kong.

Espanyol midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura is expected to play for Japan after coming on as a second half substitute in their 0-0 friendly draw with South Africa on Saturday.

"I didn't play many minutes (against South Africa)... but some good things happened," Nakamura told reporters.

IRAN AND THAILAND CLOSE IN

In Group E Iran and second placed Thailand, coached by former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson, are closing in on places at the finals.

Victory for Thailand at home to Singapore, who they beat 3-1 away on Saturday, would leave Robson's side on the brink of a place at the finals in Qatar.

"I'm only thinking about getting a positive result on Wednesday and I don't want to think further than that," Robson told reporters after Saturday's victory.

Leaders and three times champions Iran, who narrowly beat Jordan 1-0 at home on Saturday, face a tricky return against the bottom placed side on Sunday. Elsewhere, Syria and Uzbekistan can book their places at the finals in Qatar if they win their matches on Wednesday.

Syria host Vietnam aiming to make it four wins from four in Group D with China knowing a win at home to Lebanon on Sunday in the other group match, would leave them within a point of qualifying.

In Group C leaders Uzbekistan travel to Malaysia chasing the victory that will book them a place in Qatar and in Group B, Kuwait can leapfrog leaders Australia if they beat Indonesia.

"I'm confident we can get a good result in Jakarta next Wednesday," Kuwait coach Goran Tufegdzic said.

"We must put more effort in the remaining matches if we want to qualify for the finals."

Hosts Qatar, Asian Cup holders Iraq, runners-up Saudi Arabia and third place South Korea have already qualified for the finals along with India, who booked their place courtesy of victory in last year's AFC Challenge Cup.