Art And Culture

Day of Unimpressive Wins at Asian Cup

Day of Unimpressive Wins at Asian CupDay of Unimpressive Wins at Asian Cup

The second day of the AFC Asian Cup saw three matches and all the three winning teams scoring 1-0.

From Group A, where Australia had crushed Kuwait on January 8, the first day of the games, South Korea earned a difficult 1-0 over Oman on Saturday in the capital city of Canberra. Third place finishers in 2011, Korea were on top for much of the first period till Cho Yong-cheol scored the winning goal for his team in the stoppage time much to the relief of his coach, teammates and fans.

Speaking after the match, Korea’s manager Uli Stielike said he hoped the close victory would give his team added incentive as the tournament progressed, AP reported.

With this win, South Korea joined Australia on three points in Group A, although the Socceroos are top due to their better goal difference. Oman and Kuwait are the next teams in the group having no points from their first game with Kuwait occupying the 4th place, its worse goal difference.

With the rain coming down heavily for most of the match in Sydney, Igor Sergeev’s 62nd-minute header helped Uzbekistan to a 1-0 win over North Korea in the first game of Group B. The Central Asian nation, which took fourth place four years ago, controlled large swathes of the game, and winning over their not so powerful rival was not unexpected.

Two hours later, China joined Uzbekistan at the top of Group B with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia at Brisbane Stadium. China had failed to make it out of the group stage in the last two Asian Cup tournaments, but Yu Hai’s goal in the 81st minute gave the Chinese three points. Saudi Arabia went into the match without its captain and star forward Nassir Al Shamrani, who was ruled out of the Asian Cup with an abdominal injury earlier in the day.

 Iran Favorite

On Sunday in Group C matches, Iran takes on Bahrain at Melbourne and the United Arab Emirates plays Qatar at Canberra.

Iran is one of the Cup favorites and is expected to advance from an all-West Asia group. The Iranians won the continental title in three consecutive tournaments from 1968 to 1976, but two of those were at home. Team Melli hasn’t added another Asian title since.

But there’s extra confidence in the team heading into this tournament, with Carlos Queiroz staying on as coach after the World Cup and star forward Reza Ghoochannejhad leading the scorers in Asian Cup qualifying. He also scored for Iran at the World Cup in Brazil.

Queiroz is confident Iran will reach the knockout stage despite a lack of practice matches and the disruptions. This is Iran’s 13th appearance at the Asian Cup, equal with South Korea. The Iranians have scored more goals (112) than any other team in the tournament, and were the only squad to win all three group games at the 2011 edition.

Bahrain has lost five of its past seven games at the Asian Cup finals, but comes into the 2015 tournament after conceding just one goal in qualifying.