Korea and Japan were not the only players in the Asian Cup

AFC (Asian Football Federation) Asian Cup soccer in Qatar is going into an unexpected chaos. With the winning candidates walking on the thorny path, teams that thought they were far from the mainstream are making a big difference. The focus, which had been focused on the two-river structure between Korea and Japan, which formed the best members of all time and was considered the strongest candidate by their own authority, has now shifted to the dark horses in the third zone.

The biggest issue at the Asian Cup was unexpected struggles between Japan and Korea, the top two contenders for the Asian Cup at the end of the group stage and the round of 16 strongest teams. Both failed to rank No. 1 in the group stage. Japan ranked second in Group D after losing to Iraq, and depending on the results of Group E, the best big match Korea-Japan match, which was considered possible only in the final, could be held early in the round of 16. Korea, however, also tied with Malaysia in the final group match, creating an unexpected situation. There were even doubts that Coach Klinsmann chose No. 2 in his team to avoid an early Korea-Japan match.

Traditional powerhouses in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the UAE, are ‘out’

However, Korea could not afford to make such a choice. Going to second place in the group, it was unfavorable condition for Korea to take two days less than its opponent in the quarterfinals, and the opponent team in the round of 16 was as difficult as Japan. Korea’s second place in the group was in the same situation as Japan. Korea was pushed back by an unexpected opponent. Korea beat Bahrain 3-1 in the first match thanks to Lee Kang-in’s one-man show, but managed to tie Jordan 2-1 in the second match. In the third match, Korea was dragged back by Malaysia 1-2 but succeeded in the reversal due to goals from Lee Kang-in and Son Heung-min, but received a shocking result as it was hit by an equalizer just before the end. Malaysia was ranked 138th in the FIFA rankings, 111 steps lower than Korea.

Japan also had its pride damaged. Japan, which had come from behind to win 4-2, after facing strong challenges from the first game against Vietnam, lost the second game against Iraq 1-2. Iraq easily cooked up Japan, which is currently considered the strongest in Asia, by leading the game throughout the game due to its physical superiority and aggressiveness. Japan, which already lost its chance to become No. 1 in its group after losing to Iraq, had to bow down even after defeating Indonesia 3-1 in the third game under Shin Tae-yong.

Among the six groups in the tournament, only four groups had the strongest capacity. Iraq at Port 2 and Bahrain at Port 3 topped the group, beating Japan and Korea. However, the mood for unexpected changes was not dampened even when they entered the tournament. Iraq, which had emerged as a new favorite by winning all three of its group matches, was eliminated from the round of 16. Jordan thus defeated Iraq. The same applies to the UAE, which is under the leadership of former Korean national team coach Paulo Bento. Qatar and Uzbekistan also managed to advance to the quarterfinals by winning against Palestine and Thailand by one goal, respectively.

The biggest surprise so far has been Tajikistan in Central Asia. Tajikistan, ranked 109th in the FIFA rankings and this is its first Asian Cup finals, created a sensation with its solid teamwork and rapid change of offense. It tied with China in the group league and advanced to the round of 16 by defeating Lebanon. In the round of 16 against the UAE, the team was leading 1-0, but allowed an equalizer in the second half, but in the end, it advanced with a smile in the penalty shootout.

Middle Eastern soccer also faced turbulence. Saudi Arabia, the strongest team in the Middle East, was eliminated after bad luck that it met Korea in the round of 16. Among the “second-in-command” Qatar, Iraq, and the UAE that are challenging Saudi Arabia, only Qatar as the host country survived. Jordan, the third-in-command, advanced to the quarterfinals, while Bahrain, Syria, and Palestine also advanced to the round of 16.

Along with India, Southeast Asian soccer, which is drawing attention as a power plant that will inject new energy into Asian and global soccer in the future, has also revealed its presence. Thailand and Indonesia advanced to the round of 16, making desired results. Team Indonesia under Shin Tae-yong belongs to Group D with Japan and Iraq, and Vietnam, which has emerged as the new power in Southeast Asia. However, they beat Vietnam and got on the last train to advance to the round of 16. Coach Shin, who almost lost his footing after struggling at the recent World Cup qualifying round, has become a hero again by presenting a chance to advance to the round of 16 at the Asian Cup for the first time in 17 years since 2007.

Malaysia, under the coach Kim Pan-gon, caused a great stir by pushing Korea even when the team was eliminated from the group stage. Although it was difficult to be motivated, Malaysia aggressively launched offensive from the beginning, and Korea, which had a lot of psychological burden due to accumulation of warnings, rather gave up the initiative. Coach Kim Pan-gon gave strong impetus to the Korean national team, which has been struggling under the Jürgen Klinsmann regime since his departure. The Malaysian Football Association was impressed by the draw against the Korean team and set up special subsidies.

Korea-Japan, which has a large number of European players, have a hard time taking care of their condition

The Asian Cup, which featured a large number of dark horses, re-imagined that quality battles are more important than scale in soccer. Depending on how high quality the training, training, and operation of leaders and players are, even small national teams can have a strong impact. Southeast Asian soccer has recently reorganized its soccer infrastructure and systems, which have been lagging behind while strengthening the stability of each field through economic development. Club teams have already defeated Korean, Japanese, and Chinese teams in international matches such as the AFC Champions League every year. In addition, other countries’ success models have been adopted. Indonesia and Malaysia, which saw Vietnam succeed in taking a huge leap forward under coach Park Hang-seo, recruited a Korean leader, resulting in similar success.

Attempts to strengthen the national team by absorbing mixed-race or immigrant descendants are also notable. In Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, mixed-race players were in the main position. Middle Eastern countries also seem to choose to play for the national team in the countries of their parents and grandparents, who have left overseas due to war or political issues. They have overcome their weaknesses with mixed-race players and immigrants who have grown up in the European soccer system.

Unlike the relative weaknesses that develop into drastic change and absorption, the existing powerhouses faced new homework.

BY: 스포츠토토핫

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