Match-fixing in China fixtures?

With four of the eight places in the final round already won and with South Korea, Bahrain and Iran almost certain to claim their berths on Wednesday, all eyes are on the ferocious scrap in group four between China and Kuwait.

The Kuwaitis, level with China on 12 points but leading the Asian cup runners-up by a goal difference of plus two, are in pole position to win the group as they take on winless Malaysia in Kuwait city. A win for the group leaders will mean that to qualify, China must beat neighbours Hong Kong by a margin that is at least two or more goals greater than Kuwait’s victory against the Malaysians.

Elimination for China, who made their first ever appearance at a world cup in the 2002 finals, would be viewed as a disaster by the country’s official dom.