Home > The Straight Bat > Asian Cup 2011- Previewed

Asian Cup 2011- Previewed

Yeah OK, I might be a bit too excited about the Asian Cup… I mean, it is the second week in a row that I’m going to be discussing it in my blog… But eh, let’s go with it. It’s going to be awesome. Come on… You know it will be. I thought I’d take a look at each of the groups, and rate the chances of each of the nations. This could be interesting.

 

Group A

Uzbekistan

China

Kuwait

Qatar

Without doubt the most open and exciting group for neutrals, any 2 of these teams could go through to the next round. As we’ve seen in the first game of the tournament, Uzbekistan is no slouch here. Some impressive goals have seen them take the early lead in this group, and I can now definitely see them going through. Initially I had thought Qatar would take one of the spots, but after their performance and considering their future opponents, I can’t back them anymore. China is really going to cause some problems as well. The 2010 East-Asian Champions knocked off Korea Republic 3-0 and drew with Japan on their way to that title, and are severely underestimated by many. If they were in another group, I’d back them to go through. However, Kuwait are going to get the nod here. In qualifying they knocked off Australia 1-0 in Canberra and drew with the Socceroos in Kuwait City, 2-2. They have had a good preparation, and the talk is that this is a golden generation for Kuwait football. I’m thinking Al Azraq has what it takes.

Uzbekistan and Kuwait to qualify

 

Group B

Japan

Jordan

Saudi Arabia

Syria

This group is a lot less open. Syria is going to be competitive- I mean, they’ve beaten China, so they’re not really that much of a chumpy team. However, constant movement in their coaching ranks can’t be helpful, and a lack of players who have experience outside of Syria is worrying.  Jordan shouldn’t put up much of a challenge, which is a shame, because their squad has been together for quite a while, and this could be their last chance to make an impact at international level for the foreseeable future. Saudi Arabia are a good thing to go through. In the last Asian Cup, no one really gave them a chance… And they reached the final. So who’s going to doubt them here? Japan are definitely moving onto the quarter finals. Unfortunately, T=they have had quite a few injuries, and some players are really struggling for fitness. On the back of their strong showing at the World Cup though, they’re among the favourites to win this, so the Quarter Finals is pretty much a guarantee.

Japan and Saudi Arabia to qualify

 

Group C

Australia

Bahrain

India

Korea Republic

This will be an interesting group, and certainly one where most Australian eyes will be firmly fixed. India may seem a baffling inclusion in this tournament, but after winning the AFC Challenge Cup (a second-tier tournament) they gained automatic qualification to the Asian Cup finals. Their most notable player and captain, Bhaichung Bhutia, has been struggling with a calf injury. He was taken out of the 23 man squad and registered as an official, then reinstated as part of the playing squad. Whether he takes part in the tournament remains to be seen, but regardless, it won’t make much difference. They won’t be making it past the group stage, and will be lucky to get a point out of their three games. Bahrain might cause some issues, but are likely to just miss out. Korea Republic are another tournament favourite. Captain Park Ji-Sung says that this will be an end to his international career, and a win would be a fitting end to the Manchester United star’s time as skipper of his country. I’m not sure whether the squad selected is more focussed on building for Brazil 2014 or this Asian Cup, but regardless, they’ll be there or thereabouts. Last week I focussed on Australia and their chances, but I’ll say it again- the Socceroos are a definite chance, and I genuinely feel they can win this tournament. For that to happen, naturally, they’ll make the next round.

Korea Republic and Australia to qualify

 

Group D

DPR Korea

Iran

Iraq

United Arab Emirates

The final group, and another interesting group dynamic. DPR Korea had an alright showing at the World Cup, unfortunately placed in a group with Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast. A goal difference of -11 doesn’t really paint a pretty picture, but things should be a bit different here. A young side has been picked, which is said to be quite mobile. Although they could go through to the quarter finals, I don’t think they will. Instead, the qualifying spots should be shared by Iran and Iraq, meaning that the opening clash between the two sides will be very important to their campaigns. UAE fought out a grinding draw with the Socceroos in their pre-tournament friendly, but the match was experimental for both sides, and I don’t think you can read much into the result. But, they should be outclassed by both Iran and defending champions Iraq. I doubt either side will progress further than the quarter finals this time around.

Iran and Iraq to qualify

 

That’ll do me for the Asian Cup group stage. I hope that can shed some light on the lesser known teams. Regardless, enjoy the tournament. Go Socceroos!

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