January 15, 2019

AFC Asian Cup Match Previews – 16th January Wednesday

South Korea v China

Two prestigious sides at this competition will battle each other in the Asian Cup on Wednesday. South Korea will be aiming to proceed to the knockout stages as the group C winners so they will need a win in this match in order for them to come out victorious. However, it would be a tough contest for South Korea since China currently have the advantage. They sit at the top of the group standings and with a superior goal difference between the two.

Korea shocked the world when they managed to win against Germany from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They haven’t lost a game since their historic success over the former world champions. The two-time Asian champions won both of their previous group fixtures so far. They managed to win, 1-0, against the Philippines on matchday one, and another 1-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan during last time out. Even though they dominated those two nations and produced a reasonable amount of scores, their end-product was deficient. Manager Paulo Bento will now be hoping that with the addition of star player and Tottenham striker Son Heung-min, they will be able to proceed in the knockout stages as the group champions.

China, on the other hand, are also on a two match-winning streak in the competition. This is China’s 13th appearance in the Asian Cup tournament and their best performance so far was when they ended up as runners-up in years 1984 and 2004. At present, they are looking to come out in this competition as the champions considering how well they started the season. However, they weren’t able to keep a clean sheet in their match against Kyrgyzstan. Both teams are looking marvelous in form and both have the opportunities to come out as group winners. The question is which team wants it more?

Kyrgyzstan v Philippines

Two of the weakest sides in the Group C will meet on Wednesday. Kyrgyzstan will take on the Philippines for their 3rd match in the competition. This is the first ever appearance of Kyrgyzstan in the Asian Cup tournament and both of their fixtures so far clearly show how lacking they are in experiences. Their lack of experience had really cost them a lot though. In their opening match against China, they managed to score a goal but the game eventually ended in a 2-1 lost, in favour of China.

Kyrgyzstan have a record of three victories and two defeats in their previous five fixtures so far and both of those losses came in the Asian Cup. After their loss to China, they had to take on an even stronger South Korean side. They managed to play well considering their inexperience in international tournament; however, a slight mistake at the back resulted in them conceding. The match ultimately ended with a score of 1-0 in favour of the South Koreans.

Philippines, on the other hand, are no better than Kyrgyzstan. They are also on a two-match losing run in the competition as well. They began their Asian Cup campaign losing to Korea in a well-played out 1-0, and then proceeded to lose against China in an upsetting 3-0 thrashing. Like Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines are also newcomers in the competition as shown in their struggles to play against some of the finest teams in Asia.

Considering the matches they played, Kyrgyzstan were able to show more intent to win a match especially with opponents like the Philippines. Kyrgyzstan’s fixture against South Korea was one of their best display of performances so far this campaign even though they didn’t come out victorious. A win for Kyrgyzstan seems likely, though Philippines too showed some strong defence also during their match against South Korea.

Iran v Iraq

Another blockbuster showdown is set to take place on Wednesday between rivals Iran and Iraq. Both are hoping to come out as group champions but which team wants it more? Iran have been one of the best teams in the Asian Cup tournament so far since they won their previous two matches in the competition. Iraq, on the other hand, have also already qualified for the knockout rounds.

Carlos Queiroz’ men made a stellar start to the campaign and they have been doing great so far in the Group D fixtures. They managed a comfortable win against Yemen on matchday one by 5 goals to nil, while Vietnam were also a no match for them. Iran have been impressive so far, winning two fixtures with seven goals scored and back-to-back clean sheets.  They have been one of the most impressive teams especially with their attacks and they current rank as the best team in the tournament in terms of goals scored and expected goals.

Iraq, on the other hand, doesn’t look quite as impressive as their rivals but it doesn’t mean that they’ve been having a poor performance. They also came out victorious in each of their two fixture so far and they’ve been consistent with their displays lately. Iraq were able to score three goals when they took on Vietnam during matchday two, and another three goals against Yemen, but that was only because Yemen are vulnerable offensively. Furthermore, Iraq’s defence greatly differ from Iran’s which Iran could use as an advantage on Wednesday’s clash.

By @EliaasMJ

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