UAE opens Asian Cup qualifiers by beating Vietnam
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -Habib Fardan scored in the 66th minute to help United Arab Emirates to a 2-1 win over Vietnam on Wednesday in the opening qualifying matches for the 2015 Asian Cup.
In the other Group E match, 2011 Asian Cup semifinalist Uzbekistan was held to a surprising 0-0 draw at home by Hong Kong.
At Hanoi, Ahmed Khalil gave UAE an early lead with a penalty in the 6th minute before Quoc Anh Huynh equalized in the 59th.
Fardan secured the three points seven minutes later for the Gulf Cup champions.
In the highest-profile encounter on match day one, three-time Asian Cup champion Saudi Arabia was playing China in Group C.
Host Australia, reigning champion Japan, South Korea and North Korea have already secured spots at the 2015 Asian Cup.
Japan played a friendly against Latvia at Kobe on Wednesday, with forward Shinji Okazaki scoring twice in a 3-0 win.
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni selected a strong squad for the Latvia match, using it as a warmup for next month's World Cup qualifier against Jordan.
Okazaki opened the scoring in the 41st minute when his right-foot shot deflected off the left post.
Keisuke Honda made it 2-0 on the hour before Okazaki took a pass from substitute Ryoichi Maeda and beat the Latvian goalkeeper to put the result beyond doubt.
"We played much better in the second half,'' Zaccheroni said. "We hadn't played for almost two months so it took us some time to adjust but we were much better after the break and if we continue to play like that we'll be in good shape.''