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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.


TANGENTS

Asian Cup Quarterfinals; Novelty, Revenge, Familiarity & Déjà vu

Written by on January 20, 2011 | 34 Comments »
Posted in Asian Cup

This is the 5th time that a quarterfinals stage has been played at the Asian Cup. The first 4 championships saw a single round-robin group for the finals.

The next 6 tournaments witnessed two-group finals with top two teams from each progressing to a semifinals stage.

In these last 5 championships, including this edition, we have seen the traditional powers of Asia making it to the quarterfinals stage each time. These are Japan, Iran, South Korea and Iraq.

The other quarter-finalists are making their return for the second time (Australia, Qatar and Jordan) or the third time (Uzbekistan). The notable absentees this time are Saudi Arabia and China which reached this stage 3 times out of 5.  Other previous quarter-finalists who failed this time are Kuwait (twice), UAE, Bahrain and Vietnam (once).

Here are the match-ups.

Iran vs. South Korea (Saturday 11:25 am EST)

It doesn’t get any bigger in the Asian Cup. Both teams hold the record for appearances in the finals with 12 and they have played the most games (Iran 57 and South Korea 53, including this cup). Between them, they have won the cup 5 times but all of them came in the first 6 championships.

Since 1976, neither one was able to lift the trophy, in spite of their  success in making it on to the World Cup stage. In total, they played each other 6 times in the finals and twice in the qualification with Iran having the better record with 4 wins and 3 losses and 1 draws. One of the losses came on PKs in 2007 QF. Total 28 goals were scored, favoring Iran: 16 – 12.

Even more interesting is the fact that since the introduction of the quarterfinals stage in 1996, they have met in this stage every time. Iran won twice (1996 and 2004) and South Korea twice (2000 and 2007). Each time the winner went on to lose the semifinals and win the third place game.

Probably, this fact was on the mind of the Koreans when they tried hard to get that extra goal against India to win the group and avoid Iran, but destiny had another plan for them.

This game is well balanced and both teams provided consistently good performances in the group stage.

Iran is the only team with a perfect record so far, in spite of playing in the most difficult group and the many changes that they had to make due to the flu and the fact that they qualified early.

South Korea has one of the top player of the tournament in the joint top goal-scorer Koo Ja-Cheol with 4 goals. Park Ji Song is playing in his swan song tournament for his country and his strong contribution as one of the candidates for the MVP of the cup, might be the difference that favors South Korea over Iran but it promises to be a good game with a lot of goals.

Japan vs. Qatar (Friday 8:25 am EST)

No one knows which Qatar team will show up for Japan. Is it the entertaining attack-minded Qatar, seen in the first halves of the games against China and Kuwait, the defense-minded one seen in the second halves of both games, or, even worse, the totally lackluster performing team in the opener?

The answer lies with the French coach Bruno Metsu, the famous coach who took Senegal to the quarterfinals of WC 2002 and the UAE to the Gulf cup 2007 title and Al-Ain club to the AFC Champions League 2003 title.

Japan, with all their history, doesn’t have good record against Qatar. Since 1988, they played them three times in the group stages and they lost one game and drew two, scoring 2 goals and conceding 5.

Their performances in this cup are not consistent either. They were lucky to get points against Jordan and Syria. Saudi Arabia was demoralized when they played them and that led to the big loss.

Yet, Japan has shown periods of beautiful soccer and is capable of lifting up their game. Their European based players should be fired up and ready for the host Qatar. I give the edge to Japan.

Australia vs. Iraq (Saturday 8:25 am EST)

This is a second meeting in a row between these two. They met in 2007 group stage and Iraq won 3-1 on its way to winning the tournament.

Iraq keeps defying all logical reasoning. A team with so much trouble at home and playing most of their games outside their country is still capable of producing good performances.

They managed to escape a tough group and dispose of  World Cup finalist, North Korea. They can give any team a hard time, including the favorite Australia.

Australia’s coach, Holger Osieck, is well known to the Canadian fans. He was at the helm when Canada won the Gold Cup in 2000. He also helped the Urawa Red to win the AFC Champions League.

Australia is boosting the most European based players of all the participants (16 players; five of which in the EPL), but they will not have Blackburn’s Emerton for this game and there is a doubt about Everton’s Tim Cahill because of injury.

But yet, they are still one of the best team in the competition and should be able to avenge their loss to Iraq. My pick is Australia.

Uzbekistan vs. Jordan (Friday 11:25 am EST)

These teams have never met in the Asian Cup before and both are shooting for their first appearance in the final four.

Uzbekistan is one of the most consistent teams in the cup and they are playing a wonderful brand of attacking soccer. Their stars, Akhmedov and Djeparov are strong candidates for the MVP award.

They have a team that can fire on all cylinders and their long range shots are the best in this tournament. Three of their goals are strong candidates for goal of the tournament. I wouldn’t be surprised if they win it all.

Jordan is the luckiest team of the championship. They have a strong defense and the best goalkeeper, Shafi, that kept them in with huge saves. But they will be without some of their top players due to injury or suspension.

Most notable absentee is their striker Al- Saifi who scored the winner against Syria and then went out injured. In spite of gaining 7 points and scoring 4 goals, Jordan had only 6 shots on goal in three games (the lowest, alongside Kuwait.) It looks like the end of the road for them.


34 responses to “Asian Cup Quarterfinals; Novelty, Revenge, Familiarity & Déjà vu”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Most interesting match should be S Korea vs Iran. Japan vs Qatar could be a banana skin or “petrol payoff”. Australia and Uzbekistan should progress in the other two matches.

  2. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    I am not sure I understood what you mean with “petrol payoff”

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    I mean that in his pre-tournie interview, Zacheronni stated that his main intention in this event is for Japan to improve as a team and NOT necessarily win the cup. Therefore, a hefty bag may have already been slipped “under the table” by the petro hosts to the Samurais.

  4. Gus Keri says:

    This is what I understood.
    Interesting speculation.
    Not real, though.

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    So corruption and politics don’t factor into your soccer reality then?

  6. Gus Keri says:

    It does, but not when Japan is playing.
    There are many countries would do such thing but not Japan.

  7. Soccerlogical says:

    So your assuming the Samurai/Kamikaze attitude is instilled in an Italian coach and a bunch of Japanese soccer playboy millionaires?

    Sometimes FIFA and “for the good of the game” prevail over an FA’s honor. I lived in Japan, don’t let their awesome PR fool ya. Between the “Rape of Nanking”, Pearl Harbor and business kickbacks, Japan is just as shall we say “modern” as the rest of us.

  8. Gus Keri says:

    Those are different times.

    It’s hard for me to believe that top wealthy soccer nation, like Japan, would throw a game like that.

    The Japanese still have a good chance of winning and getting to the Confederation cup in Brazil in 2013. And having a direct qualification to the Asian Cup 2015 in Australia.

    Obviously, after winning the World Cup hosting bid, Qatar will be under scrutiny every time a suspicion of corruption comes up.

    What happened to the “innocnt until proven guilty”?

  9. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Never underestimate the power of corruption in the world, in sports in general, and in footy in particular. Add on top of that that this is the Asian Cup, the land of some, er most, of the most corrupt nations on the planet, oil money + host nation = severe corruption potential. Does anyone know where Sepp Blatter is? Could he be vacationing in Qatar? Good crystal ball SL! Let’s keep an eye on the final score of this match. If Peru can throw a World Cup match (allegedly), as in 1978, to the host country then it can very well be done in the prestigious Asian Cup.

    Gus, when does this spectacular tourny conclude?

    Signed, interested manager from the blue side of Merseyside.

  10. Gus Keri says:

    Peru’s incidence was different. The Peruvian goalkeeper was Argentinian in origin and he was to blame mostly for the defeat.

    TVN: From your name, I thought you were a scouser.

  11. Soccerlogical says:

    Gus – Everyone owes someone. Japan & S Korea must have greased a few palms or signed a few IOUs to have gotten their WC.

    And if they ever want to host another one, they will play by the “big boy rulez”.

    Japan possesses some awesome attacking talent. They may well win the whole thing BUT I always try to look at both faces of the coin. I mean Iraq won the 2007 Asian Cup at quite a “relevant” juncture, don’t ya think… Iraq!

  12. Gus Keri says:

    Iraq’s win in 2007 is like Greece’s win in 2004 and Denmark’s win in 1992 and Canada’s win in 2000.

    Every once in a while, a surprise team win a big tournament.

    Now, I am off to bed. Good night every one

  13. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Gus,

    With all due respect, with a name like mine the last thing I would be is a Scouser. With a name like mine, my most likely origins would be from the North of London.

    David Moyes called. He wants to know when this brilliant (cough, cough, cough) tournament comes to a conclusion. And I would like to know if you can also cover the Copa Centroamericana concurrently?

    TvN

  14. Gus Keri says:

    TVN:

    I was joking with you, because why would an Arsenal fan care about when Tim Cahill come back?

    Anyway, the final of the Asain cup is next Saturday.

    Regarding the Copa Centoamericana:
    Today is the semifinals stage:

    Honduras vs El Salvador (at 6:30 pm EST)
    Panama vs Costa Rica (at 9 pm EST)

    All these team qualified to the Gold Cup

    On more team to qualify to the Gold cup is the winner of the fifth place game:
    Guatimala vs Nicaragua (at 4 pm EST)

    Now off to Japan vs. Qatar

  15. Japan 1-2 and down to ten men win 3-2 – spirited performance?

  16. Gus Keri says:

    Bobby:

    It was a classic match. No question it was the best game so far.

    end to end staff.

    I saw the best of these two teams in this tournament.

    The Latin flair of Qatar vs the Barcelona of Asia (as Bruno Mitsu called them)

    Afterall, there was no conspiracy.

  17. Soccerlogical says:

    “Afterall, there was no conspiracy.”

    You never know.

    Japan could obviously score at will with all their attacking options. One can argue that Japan held back (def and off) to make the game exciting for the home crowd as opposed to easily demolishing the hosts 5-0, which they could have done eeasily. It’s not like you see many “weak” teams come from behind with a goal/man down to win in regular time.

  18. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    I gave up.

    How could you enjoy any game with so much negative preconcieved notions?

  19. Gus Keri says:

    Uzbekistan – Jordan: 0-0 (at the half)

    As usual, Jordan playing defensive game and so far are able to keep the Uzbeks off the scoring sheet.

    Shafi is saving them, again and again.

  20. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Gus,

    Thank you for the info … and your grace. I may actually watch the Copa Centroamericana matches today.

    Yeah, so much for the conspiracy. Although, I must admit that all the stars were aligned. A perfect Domenech moment.

  21. Soccerlogical says:

    Gus – I can’t enjoy a game where I know one side is MUCH better than the other. The only game I am looking forward to at this stage is S Korea vs Iran.

  22. Soccerlogical says:

    PS Now that Japan has progressed, they are favorites in my book! You will see how well they pass and create in the semis, and a totally different style from the team that just played Qatar.

  23. Gus Keri says:

    Uzbekistan – Jordan: 2-1

    After a dull first half, the game came to life in the early part of second half when Uzbekistan scored two goal in the first 4 minutes.

    This forced Jordan out of their defensive shell and had their best spell of the game in the next 10-15 minutes and scored a gaol.

    After that Uzbekistan resumed their very effective possession game and tired the Jordanian up until the end.

  24. Gus Keri says:

    YVN:

    You’re welcome

    Do you think Nicaragua will do it again and beat Guatemala, like in 2009 and qualify?

  25. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    It doesn’t matter who they are going to play, South Korea or Iran, It’s going to be a cracker.

  26. Soccerlogical says:

    Agreed!

    I think the S Korea vs Iran will be a midfield battle and low scoring game perhaps going into AET. The teams are pretty well matched and Korea is missing a goalscorer in Park Chu-Young.

    But Japan will play very open and enjoy themselves with Honda, Endo and & Kagawa buzzing all over the place.

  27. Gus Keri says:

    But South Korea has another good goalscorer in Koo Ja-Cheol, who already scored 4 goals and his partnership with Park Ji Song is very effective.

    I always say that “the game that promises the most usually delivers the least”. But I am hoping that the Iran/South Korea game will be as entertaining as Japan/Qatar.

  28. Soccerlogical says:

    Koo Ja-Cheol is an attacking mid for his Korean club team. He may be playing well but Park Chu-Young of Monaco is like a Robin Van Persie when compared to Koo Ja-Cheol who is like a Steed Malbranque (and that’s being very generous).

  29. Gus Keri says:

    I never saw him with his club but in the Asian cup, he is playing forward.

  30. Soccerlogical says:

    I basically looked him up on WIKI!

    LOL

  31. Gus Keri says:

    To those who are interested in the Gold Cup this Summer:

    The list of qualifiers has been completed by the qualification of Guatemala today. They beat Nicaragua in the fifth place game in the Copa Centroamericana.

    The 12 countries are: (the number represents the most recent FIFA ranking)

    18- USA
    27- Mexico
    56- Honduras
    59- Jamaica
    62- Cuba
    67- Panama
    69- Costa Rica
    84- Canada
    94- Grenada
    116- El Salvador
    117- Guatemala
    NR- Guadeloupe

    Guadeloupe is not ranked because it’s not a memeber of FIFA. Guadeloupe is a French department and its players play for the French national team in FIFA competition.

  32. Gus Keri says:

    What a goal by Mereles

  33. Gus Keri says:

    Australia – Iraq: 1-0 (AET)

    What a heartbreak for the holder Iraq.

    It was a hard fought physical game but also very entertaining. It has a lot of good opportunity to score for both team but it was Kewell who broke the Iraqi’s heart with a goal in the 118th minute.

    Schwarzer was the best player on the field and he saved Australia on many occasions.

    Tim Cahill wasn’t at his best and had to be substituted in the second half. His injury probably affected his performance.

  34. Gus Keri says:

    South Korea – Iran: 1-0 (AET)

    South Korea deserved their place in the semifinals.

    Instead of playing their own game, Iran spent most of the time trying to stop the Korean from playing their game and only started to attack when they went behind in the 105th minute.

    Overall, the game was very physical and the antithesis of the beautiful game that I was hoping for.

    The semifinals line ups:

    South Korea vs. Japan (Tuesday 8:25 am EST)
    Australia vs. Uzbekistan (Tuesday 11:25 am EST)

    Interesting fact:

    For the first time in the history of the Asian cup, all Western Asain countries were eliminated before the final four stage.
    It’s another huge disappointment after none of them managed to qualify to the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

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