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Ali Daei

The 30 goals scored by Ali Daei in FIFA World Cup qualifying matches appear to be a record that will never be broken. In the qualifying competition for the 1994 World Cup in the USA, the Iran striker scored seven times, adding another four ahead of France 1998 four years later. Ten goals in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup saw him match Kazu Miura’s tally of 21, and Daei then contributed another nine goals ahead of the 2006 World Cup, making him the most prolific goalscorer in World Cup qualifying history by some distance. But now a new World Cup qualifying campaign has begun in Asia, and a number of marksmen have already set about improving their own tallies. With four matches played, Thailand striker Sarayoot Chaikamdee of Vietnamese club Pisico Binh Dirih leads the scoring charts with seven goals. Having already scored against Yemen in the qualifying competition for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, the 26-year-old striker hit the target in a 1-1 first-leg draw against the same opponents and then sealed Thailand’s passage to the third round with the only goal of the return fixture in Bangkok last November. Thailand had previously reached the second round with a comfortable 13-2 aggregate win over Macau, with Chaikamdee contributing five goals. Uzbekistan’s Maksim Shatskikh struck five times in the opening game against Chinese Taipei to go second in the scoring charts. Interestingly enough, Shatskikh has scored ten of his 11 World Cup qualifying goals to date during home games in Tashkent.