Soccer-Qatar to host Asian World Cup playoff on June 7

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The playoff between the third-placed finishers in Asia's preliminaries for this year's World Cup will be held in Qatar on June 7, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Friday.

The winners of the one-off clash will take on the fifth placed finishers in South America's qualifying competition on either June 13 or 14, also in Qatar, with a place at the finals at stake.

The AFC said the date and venue were chosen to "ensure the two prospective Asian sides are provided with optimum preparation support".

Iran and South Korea have already secured automatic qualification for the World Cup from Group A of Asia's preliminaries, with the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Lebanon battling for third place and one of the playoff spots.

Saudi Arabia currently lead Group A by one point from Japan with Australia in third place.

With fourth-placed Oman out of the running, Group B's two qualification berths and playoff slot will be divided among the leading trio during next month's final round of qualifying matches.

Saudi Arabia would claim an automatic spot with victory over China on March 24, the same day Australia host Japan in Sydney.

The Australians then travel to take on the Saudis five days later while Japan entertain Vietnam in their final qualifier.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Jane Wardell)

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