Update: JINAN, China (majirox news) — World Champions Japan are through to the 2012 London Olympics after drawing 1-1 with North Korea and Australia defeated China in a later game here Sept. 8.
Japan’s 10 points after four games will be enough to ensure it is one of the top two teams in the six-team Asian Qualifying Group round-robin tournament, regardless of the result of its final match against hosts China on Sept. 11.
Japan tops the six-team table, followed by North Korea on eight points with two wins and two draws, including Thursday’s game against Japan. Australia is next on six points and China on five. Even if China defeats Japan, Nadeshiko will still go through to the Olympics by finishing second at worst.
The top two teams in the tournament qualify for the Olympics.
The news late Thursday was much better for Japan than it had been a couple of hours earlier after it surrendered a hard-fought lead against North Korea with an injury time equalizer.
Japan took the lead with an 83rd-minute own-goal from the North Koreans, then braced for an onslaught in the remainder of the game.
Japan appeared to have held tight as the teams entered stoppage time, but Kim Jo Ran slotted the ball into the net two minutes from time to gain the equalizer.