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Gus Keri

A life-long Liverpool fan who resides in New York City and also supports the New York Red Bulls.


Asian Cup Semifinals; the Established and the Newcomers – Part One

Written by on January 24, 2011 | 18 Comments »
Posted in Asian Cup, Japan, Korea Republic

Although this is the 15th Asian cup finals, it is the 11th time that we will have a semifinals stage, which was introduced in 1972. Since then, Iran held the record with 7 semifinals appearances, followed by South Korea, Saudi Arabia and China with 6 and Japan with 5.

The first 4 tournaments had a round-robin finals and the team that ended on the top of the group won the cup. If you add the top four finishers from those four cups, South Korea will be the record holder with 9 appearances, followed by Iran with 8 then Saudi Arabia and China with 6 and Japan with 5.

This is the first time in the history of the Asian cup that Western Asia will not have a representative in the final four. On the other hand, Australia and Uzbekistan will be making their first semifinals appearance.

All the semifinalists are still undefeated with similar record of 3 wins and one draw.

South Korea vs. Japan (Tuesday 8:25 am EST)

For the last 56 years, South Korea has defined Asian soccer. It is a founding member of the Asian confederation and alongside Malaysia; they are the only countries to enter every cup since the introduction of the competition.

South Korea is the most successful Asian side, in appearances, at both the World Cup finals (8 times) and the Asian cup finals (12, shared with Iran). But the fact that they managed to win the first two Asian cups, only, and none since then is puzzling. A fact, they are trying to change in this cup and they are more than capable of doing so.

Man Utd’s Park Ji Sung has shown his class in this cup. He is the engine of this team and his technical skills are unmatched. He is one of the favorites for the MVP award and will be making his 100th appearance against Japan, the Korean’s historical arch nemesis. Park will do his best to deliver the cup to his country, for the first time since 1960, on his final tournament appearance.

Japan, on the other hand, is a late bloomer. Although they first entered the qualification in 1968, the year they won the Olympic soccer bronze medal, their first appearance in the finals came in 1988. They won the cup in three out of the last five tournaments. Soccer in Japan has to play second fiddle to baseball and it wasn’t until the formation of a professional league in 1993 that the game matured on the international level.

Here in Qatar, occasionally, Japan has played to its reputation as the Barcelona of Asia and if it wasn’t for the lackluster performances on other times, they could have added many more goals to their tournament’s best of 11 goals in 4 matches.

To go through South Korea, they have to rely on their top stars Honda and Endo to deliver and hope that their German based Kagawa keep scoring. Japan’s other goal-scorers, Okazaki and Maeda, the heroes against Saudi Arabia, need to show that they can score against a stronger opposition.

South Korea won both previous meeting between these two teams in the finals. They won 2-0 in the group stage of 1988 and on PK (6-5) after drawing (0-0) in the third place game in 2007. This game promises an Entertaining all-attack soccer and unlike Iran/South Korea quarterfinals game, I think they will deliver and I see south Korea making it three wins out of three.

A preview of Australia v Uzbekistan will be posted shortly.

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18 responses to “Asian Cup Semifinals; the Established and the Newcomers – Part One”

  1. Gus Keri says:

    What an unbelievable strike by Drogba

  2. Theo van Nasregas says:


    What ever happened to that Nakamura fellow that used to play for Celtic?Has he retired from international competition, not selected, or retired for good to pursue some other endevour?

    And stop watching EPL. I thought you were the foreign footy correspondent reporting from the far reaches of the globe. Focus mate. Don’t let the mind wander.

  3. Gus Keri says:


    Nakamura is retired from internationals.

    And for you to know me better, I refer you to my blog on

    You will find varieties of articles. You might like some of them.

  4. Nakamura to Espanyol from Celtic and now back in Japan in the J-League I believe.

  5. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Thank you gentlemen for the update on Naka. Was the international retirement of his own choosing (i.e. age related)? Or was he forced out by the current national manager (i.e. just not fancied by the national manager)? That lad was brilliant with Celtic and that was not that long ago, therefore, one would still believe he could be useful for Japan.

  6. Gus Keri says:

    My understanding that the coach Zaccheroni wanted to build a new team for the WC qualifications. So, he left some of the veterans out and this may have triggerred Nakamura’s risgnation.

  7. Theo van Nasregas says:

    So, he still has the quality but it came down to the manager’s decision? Do you know how old he is off the top of your head? I know I could look it up if I have to but since we’re on the topic …

  8. Theo van Nasregas says:

    And Gus, are you ever going to convert? Not your religion but your loyalty to club. Give up on Liverpool and come on over to the Grove. We have a nice seat for you at the Emirates. Good sightlines.


  9. Gus Keri says:


    Nakamura is 32 year old

    And thank for the invitation. I would love to have the seat when Liverpool play at the Emirates next time.

  10. Theo van Nasregas says:

    The seat’s only available if you convert mate. Look into the swinging pendulum … you’re getting sleepy … renounce Liverpool …

    You know the drill. I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness, never met Michael Jackson, or Nani, but I am proselytizing.

  11. Gus Keri says:

    It’s too bad.

    “You will never walk alone” are not just words.

  12. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Speaking of which, wasn’t that song stolen from Celtic? And wasn’t Everton’s song, “For it’s a grand old team to play for …” also stolen from Celtic? What is it with Merseyside teams stealing from poor old Celtic? Shameless and scandalous me thinks. No?

  13. Gus Keri says:

    Another controversy? You are on fire today.

    Here is my take on this issue:

    I read a lot about this issue over the years and no body has the right answer beyond any reasonable doubt.

    This song was popular at that time and it’s inspirational. Both sets of fans loved it and started singing it at games.

    the question is: Who made it what it’s right now? If you ask 100 people what these words remind them of, how many of them will say Liverpool and how many will say Celtics?

    I remember 6 years ago, I travelled to Connecticut to attend Liveprool vs. Celtics friendly game. It was my first ever live Liverpool game. I was in awe with both sets of fans, when they joined together in singing the “you’ll never walk alone” anthem. It was magical.

    No body cared who sang it first.

  14. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Gus, you’re not a half bad fella for a guy that is a Liverpool fan and a fan of redheaded stepchildren footy.

    I’d have to do some research myself and have not heard a definitive answer on the subject yet. But as they say, where there’s smoke there is fire.

    What about the Everton song?

  15. Gus Keri says:


    “Gus, you’re not a half bad fella for a guy that is a Liverpool fan”

    Don’t fall for this stereotyping.

    The majority of Liveprool fans are good people. Of course there are few bad ones like every club has some of them, but we shouldn’t generilize.

  16. Gus Keri says:

    Japan – South Korea: 1-1 (at the half)

    It was a good half, full of actions. Both teams are playing to win, throwing caution out.

    The strange thing that both goals came against the run of play, at a period when the other team was dominating.

  17. Gus Keri says:

    Japan – South Korea: 1-1 (at 90 minutes)
    game goes to 30 minutes of extra time

    The play slowed down in the second half with both defenses taking control reducing the number of opportunities.

    Overall, it it hard to seperate the two. It looks distant for PKs.

  18. Gus Keri says:

    Japan – South Korea: 2-2 (3-0 on PKs)

    It was a very entertaining extra time. After Japan scored on a controvesial PK in the 97th minute, for a foul commited outside the area, South Korea stepped up their offense and finally at the last minute, they managed to tie the score. But all came to a halt in the PKs where they missed 3 PKs in a row and went out.

    Japan will be playing in their 4th finals in the last 6 cups while South Korea will have to play in the 3rd place game for the third time in the last 4 cups.

    The curse of the Iran/South Korea in the quarterfinals continues.

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