AFC Asian Cup Final Draw – East Asian nations expectations and outcomes


The final draw for the 2019 AFC Asian cup finals took place on the 4th of May. Four East Asian nations have qualified for the finals and here we assess each countries chances of winning the tournament.

South Korea

South Korea have been drawn to face fellow East Asians China, Kyrgyzstan and The Philippines. China is the most likely team in the group to give South Korea any difficulty but there is no possibility of South Korea not making it out of the group with it being highly likely that they will win all three group matches.

As one of the biggest nations in the Asian Confederation, they’ll be expected to succeed in the tournament by getting to the latter stages of the competition. Without a doubt, South Korea is a potential winner, but they should be targeting reaching the semi-finals at the very least. If their big guns are firing throughout the tournament we could see them lifting the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

China

China seems to have recently had grand ideas above their station, they seem to have an entitlement that they should be a great team because currently, the CSL is spunking loads of cash on big money signings while the CFA is pumping a huge stack of cash into player development so it’s understanding they’re expecting to see some kind of result but with most things in Asia they’re expecting to see the outcome way too soon.

China was recently brought crashing back down to reality in the China Cup and this might hold them in good stead going into the Asian Cup as they won’t want to face more humiliating defeats. If that reality check has been taken on board then could be a real dark horse in this tournament, but it all depends which China will show up to the finals.

As long as the correct attitude is applied then The Philippines and Kyrgyzstan will prove no contest for China, but the South Koreans are a whole new kettle of fish. China won’t defeat South Korea, at best they will manage to get a draw which won’t be enough to get the top spot. The likely outcome is China will finish second behind Korea, get out the group but go no further – unless they, fortunately, get an easier opponent.

North Korea

North Korea has been drawn with a host of West Asian nations which isn’t great for them because West Asians have been dominant in Asia now for a long time. They have been grouped with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Lebanon making it extremely tough for the North Koreans. Saudi Arabia qualified for the World Cup, Qatar made it through to the last round of World Cup qualifying in the Asian zone and Lebanon were drawn in the same Asian Cup qualifying group as North Korea failing to lose in either the home or away fixture; going on to top the group.

North Korea was the only East Asians to be drawn from pot 4 and it’s easy to tell they were one of the lowest ranked with the task facing them. They will have to play like men possessed to get out of the group, and the chances are they could finish rock bottom after three games played. If they do lose all three games it won’t be by many goals due to the North Korean’s dogged playing style. A win would be a success, if they get out of the group then they’d have punched above their weight. The most likely scenario is they’ll be returning to Pyongyang after three matches.

Japan

Asian Cup big dogs, Japan are expected to do well in every Asian Cup due to their status as one of the continents very best, the absolute minimum for them must be the semi-final. They should have no problems breezing through their group with comfortable ease where they will face off against, Uzbekistan, Oman and Turkmenistan.

Once through to the knockout stages the route to the final becomes a bit murkier with most of Asia’s big boys unlikely to go out at the first hurdle. Japan won’t be worried about that though as they will feel they’re capable of beating anyone at the finals.

It will be interesting to see who will be lead Japan into the 2019 tournament as Akira Nishino only has a contract until the end of the World Cup. Japan will make it to the semi-final and if they get to the final I believe they’ll win it. Getting there is the tricky part.

Japan and South Korea are the most likely countries who are capable of winning the competition from the East Asian Zone. I think South Korea is slightly bigger favourites than Japan just because Japan’s manager situation is unstable right now. China has the potential to be dark horses but are unlikely to reach the final rounds of the competition while North Korea will have a hell of a fight on their hands just to get out of the group. My final prediction is; Japan and South Korea will make a semi on, China will get to the last 16, and North Korea will be eliminated at the group stage.

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