Asian World Cup qualifiers: Will Kubo-less Japan find spark? Can Vietnam kickstart campaign?

Japan will be without talismanic playmaker Takefusa Kubo for their upcoming matches against Saudi Arabia and Australia, after he picked up a knee injury while playing for Mallorca at the end of last month. Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

The third round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup resumes on Thursday with plenty up for grabs, as the continent's 12 remaining contenders look to move one step closer to booking a ticket to Qatar next summer.

While some like Iran and Australia look to continue their blemish-free ways so far, others such as China PR and Vietnam are in desperate need of positive results to remain in contention.

- Alireza Jahanbakhsh believes Iran can make World Cup history

We look at the main talking points from the six matches on Match Day 3.

Can Premier League duo Son and Hwang click for South Korea?

For the past few years, South Korea have boasted Asia's standout footballer in Son Heung-min -- but he is no longer the only player from his country lighting up the Premier League.

Following his summer move from Red Bull Salzburg, Hwang Hee-chan has made a blistering start to life at Wolves having netted thrice in his first four league outings.

Although he has spent all his professional career in Europe, Hwang has yet to play a legitimate starring role for the national team with just six goals from 39 caps. Should he be able to replicate his current club form on the international stage, starting with Thursday's game against Syria, it could ease the burden on Son and potentially be the start of a fearsome double act for the Taegeuk Warriors.

Do United Arab Emirates stand any chance against perfect Iran?

Iran are one of just two teams to have won both their games so far in the Asian qualifiers, and star man Alireza Jahanbakhsh recently told ESPN he believes his side will build on their strong start over the next week.

With a meeting with fellow Group A heavyweights South Korea to come next Tuesday, it is imperative that Team Melli enter that clash with nine points in the bag but is there a chance they could slip up against United Arab Emirates?

UAE are certainly a team on the rise especially following the addition of naturalised players Fabio Lima and Caio Canedo and boast one of the continent's deadliest finishers in Ali Mabkhout, although Iran should still be favourites in this tie.

Will Iraq or Lebanon - or both - find themselves in dire straits?

Iraq may have claimed just one point from their opening two matches but given they came against South Korea and Iran, Group A's two highest-ranked teams, those results were perhaps not the worst outcome.

However, if they are to remain in with a shout of advancing -- even if it is through to the playoffs as the third-placed team -- they must start getting results on the board.

They should fancy their chances against a Lebanon outfit who are also yet to taste victory in the third round of qualifying, although a draw -- which would leave the two teams on two points -- could be disastrous for both.

Are record-breaking Australia capable of maintaining 100 per cent record?

A narrow 1-0 victory over Vietnam in their last outing saw Australia set their new record of ten consecutive wins in World Cup qualifying, and confidence will be high in the Socceroos camp at the moment.

They will have to be wary on Thursday coming up against an Oman side which stunned Japan on Match Day 1, and Australia's display against Vietnam -- after a dominant 3-0 triumph over China PR -- was far from convincing.

Nonetheless, the likes of Harry Souttar, Tom Rogic and Awer Mabil have all been in excellent form throughout the campaign and the Socceroos should be looking to stretch their winning run for a while more.

Who can step up for Japan in absence of Takefusa Kubo?

After a disappointing opening-day loss to Oman, Japan bounced back by beating China on Match Day 2 -- a match where they looked significantly more dangerous in the final third largely owing to the introduction of wonderkid Takefusa Kubo.

With the 20-year-old ruled out after recently picking up an injury while playing for Mallorca, it remains to be seen who will step up in his absence with the likes of Daichi Kamada and Ritsu Doan the likeliest alternatives for now.

As of one Asia's five representatives at the last World Cup, Saudi Arabia are far from pushovers but Japan's defence usually gets the job done. Whether they have enough going forward remains the bigger headache for coach Hajime Moriyasu.

Is China tie Vietnam's best chance of getting off the mark?

Vietnam did brilliantly to reach the third round of Asian qualifiers for the first time ever, but defeats to Saudi Arabia and Australia were a reality check as to the standard of opposition they are now up against.

Qualifying for the World Cup always looked a bridge too far, but the Vietnamese should still be looking to continue the improvement they have made under South Korean coach Park Hang-seo.

Thursday's match against a China outfit who have flattered to deceive so far despite an influx of naturalised imports could just be the Vietnamese's best chance of picking up a win.