Asian Cup heats up as smaller nations shake the region’s hierarchy

January 22- The second round of Asian Cup group games saw several pre-tournament favourites given a fright and appears to show that Arab teams are closing the gap on their more illustrious opponents.

Japan, four-times champions and the highest-ranked team in the competition, were upset 2-1 by Iraq while South Korea almost lost to Jordan for the first time before an injury-time own goal spared their blushes.

Japan struggled with the physicality of their West Asian counterparts in what seemed like a home game for the Lions of Mesopotamia.

“We analysed before the game and knew how Iraq would play at the start, they did play very aggressively. Unfortunately we couldn’t handle it, I know we need to do more,” Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s South Korea were frustrated by a tactically disciplined Jordan in their 2-2 draw, failing to score from open play.

“What they did really well was they overpowered us physically in the one-v-one battles,” Klinsmann said.

South Korea skipper Son Heung-min, the biggest name at the tournament, added:  “In the Asian Cup, there’s never an easy game. If you’re not ready mentally and physically, they can hurt you.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1712965168labto1712965168ofdlr1712965168owedi1712965168sni@w1712965168ahsra1712965168w.wer1712965168dna1712965168

 


Grp AWDLFAPts
Qatar300509
Tajikistan111224
China021021
Lebanon012151
Grp BWDLFAPts
Australia210417
Uzbekistan12415
Syria111114
India003060
Grp CWDLFAPts
Iran210627
UAE111524
Palestine111354
Hong Kong002070
Grp DWDLFAPts
Iraq300849
Japan201846
Indonesia102363
Vietnam003480
Grp EWDLFAPts
Bahrain201536
Korea120865
Jordan111634
Malaysia012381
Grp FWDLFAPts
Saudi Arabia210417
Thailand120205
Oman021232
Krygz Rep012151

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