Asian Cup 2019, Group F preview: Japan, Oman, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
The Group F consists of Japan, Uzbekistan, Oman, and Turkmenistan. All eyes will be on the four-time Asian Cup champions Japan (1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011), who are the favorites to progress from the group.
Among the others, Uzbekistan have high chances to progress from the group. But they need to be aware of the threats from Oman and Turkmenistan as both the teams can cause an upset.
One of the successful teams in competitions history, Japan would try to take the title back from Australia this time. They have won the title on four occasions and their latest success came in 2011.
Japan made their Asian Cup debut in 1988 and it ended miserably. Since then, Japan’s football has improved leaps and bounds. They won the title in the very next edition and dominated the competition ever since.
They are one of the best teams in Asia at the moment and many of their players are playing top-flight football in European leagues. In their eight appearances at the Asian Cup, Japan have played 41 matches and won 24 of them. Such is their dominance in this tournament that they have reached the quarter-finals every other edition, except for 1988.
Their last Asian Cup ended on a sour note. They won all their matches in the group stage without conceding a goal but lost to the United Arab Emirates in the quarter-finals.
in 2018, they have produced some great football at the World Cup in Russia. They defeated Colombia, being the first team from Asia to beat a South American nation at the quadrennial event. They drew with Senegal and lost to Poland.
In their pre-quarterfinal match against Belgium, they got a two-goal lead in the second half, only to see a spirited comeback from the Red Lions to lose the match. They have also registered a fabulous 4-3 in a friendly against Uruguay on October 16.
Key players: Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo, Hiroki Sakai.
Uzbekistan is certainly the second best team of the group and have a great chance to qualify for the quarter-finals. After the disintegration of USSR, Uzbekistan made their first appearance in the Asian Cup in 1996. They were termed as the weakest team of the tournament but pulled off an upset by defeating China in their opening match.
However, they ended the campaign finishing at the 10th position. They finished 12th in the next edition, which is their worst finish till date, having qualified for at least the quarter-finals in all the next editions.
Uzbekistan have so far played 24 games at the tournament, winning 11 of them and losing one less. Their best finish is fourth at the 2011 edition when they were drubbed by Australia 0-6 in semi-finals and lost 2-3 to South Korea in the third place play-off. Hector Cuper took charge of the team in August.
Key players: Odiljon Xamrobekov, Marat Bikmaev.
Oman have qualified for the fourth time in the Asian Cup. Long termed as one of the weakest, Oman doesn’t have a great history in football. They have qualified for this year but have to cause one or two upsets to make it to the next round.
Oman have never qualified beyond the group stages. They have played nine games in the competition and won only two. Having won the Gulf Cup beating UAE, Oman are riding high on confidence.
But they have to do it without their star player Ali Al-Habsi. The goalkeeper has been ruled out a few days ago due to an injury.
Key Players: Fayz Al-Rusheidi, Mohammed Al Hosni.
Turkmenistan has made only one appearance in this tournament. At 2004, they couldn’t go beyond the group stage. They drew with Saudi Arabia and lost to Iraq and Uzbekistan.
Being the weakest side in this group, Turkmenistan have slim chances to go to the next round. The team is based upon the domestic champions Altyn Asyr, with 11 players from the squad of 23 coming from the team.
Key players: Altymyrat Annadurdyyew, Arslanmyrat Amanov.