Pim Verbeek's rookie Australian side opened its 2011 Asian Cup qualifying campaign with a gritty 0-0 draw against Indonesia on Wednesday but triple champions Japan slumped to a 1-0 defeat in Bahrain.
In other action, Peter Reid's Thailand held Ali Daei's formidable Iran, also three-time champions, to a 0-0 draw in Bangkok while Syria, who are in Group D along with China, kept up their perfect record with a second win, a 2-0 succes in Lebanon.
Playing in Jakarta's imposing Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Australia were so inexperienced that only six members of the squad had played at senior level before.
It meant the A-Leaguers had little time to gel and the lack of preparation showed early on against a side ranked 144 in the world.
The game opened up in the second half with Indonesian striker Budi Sudarsano finding himself in a great position on 62 minutes, but his close range header lacked power.
Socceroos striker Archie Thompson tested goalkeeper Markus Horison three minutes later and Adelaide United midfielder Paul Reid went close in the 69th minute, but the breakthrough never came.
Australia are second in Group B ahead of newly-crowned Gulf Cup winners Oman's trip to Kuwait later Wednesday.
Japan, who were Asian champions in 1992, 2000 and 2004, went down to a 1-0 defeat to Bahrain in Manama with Salman Isa scoring the winner in the 25th minute to give Bahrain their second successive victory.
It was Japan's first defeat following a 2-1 victory over Yemen in the first match at home while Bahrain, who lead Group A, won their opener against Hong Kong 3-1.
Isa headed in a Hussain Baba free kick from 20 metres outside the penalty area.
The diminutive striker timed his jump to perfection and not only beat Uchida Atusto for the ball but also Eiji Kawashima, who stood in for injured first and second-choice goalkeepers Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi and Seigo Narazaki.
For Japan, playing without their Europe-based stars, captain and defender Yuji Nakazawa was in the thick of the action but with Okazaki Shinji and Tamada Keiji off colour most of their moves lacked cohesion.
It was Bahrain's second victory over Japan in seven encounters and ended a poor run of straight defeats in World Cup qualifying last year.
In Sana'a, Yemen kept up their outside hopes of making the finals in Qatar with a 1-0 win over Hong Kong.
Iran were expected to take all three points after running riot in a 6-0 drubbing of Singapore in their opening qualifier, but the Thais battled hard for a point to stay second in Group E.
Iran lead with four points while Singapore are second with four points after knuckling down to post a hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Jordan.
Agu Casmir got their opener after 21 minutes but Jordan were level four minutes before the break when Hatem Aqel made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Singapore pressed forward and were rewarded when Noh Alam Shah scored the winner on 63 minutes.
In Group C, a 30th-minute goal from Farhod Tadijev gave Uzbekistan a 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates in Sharjah in their first match.
The UAE stay top of the three-team section after a 5-0 mauling of Malaysia in their opener.
Five teams have already booked their tickets with Qatar qualifying automatically as hosts while Iraq, Saudi Arabia and South Korea are assured of their places after finishing as the top three in the 2007 tournament.
India make the finals after winning the AFC Challenge Cup last year.
Source: AFP Asian Edition