The Asian Games 2018 kick started with football 8 days ahead of schedule. With India not participating in the Games, there is less of Indian interest. But football is a global sport and it's good to follow the action at the Games.
Football is scheduled to be held from Aug 10 to Sep 1, 2018. The men's competition is among 25 teams fighting it out across 4 venues in Indonesia. The 25 teams have been split into 6 groups.
Group A consists of Palestine (99), Chinese Taipei (123), Hong Kong (142), Indonesia (164) and Laos (178).
Group B consists of Qatar (98), Uzbekistan (95), Thailand (122) and Bangladesh (194).
Group C consists of Syria (73), China (75), UAE (77) and Timor Leste (190).
Group D consists of Japan (61), Vietnam (102), Nepal (161) and Pakistan (201).
Group E consists of South Korea (57), Kyrgyzstan (92), Bahrain (113) and Malaysia (171).
Group F consists of Iran (37), Saudi Arabia (67), North Korea (108) and Myanmar (138).
Let's take a look at the team's performances in the recently concluded AFC U23 Cup held in 2018. Uzbekistan were the champions with Vietnam finishing in second position. Qatar came third, followed by South Korea and Japan occupying 4th and 5th respectively.
Palestine were placed 7th, Malaysia 8th, North Korea 9th, China 10th, and Saudi Arabia 13th. Syria came 14th and Thailand were 16th. Iran, UAE and Kyrgyzstan did not field their teams.
The action at the 2018 Games started off on Aug 10th at the Patriot Stadium, Bekasi with Hong Kong (142) taking on Laos (178). As expected, Hong Kong showed their superiority and overpowered Laos with a 3-1 victory.
The goal scorers for Hong Kong were Cheng Chin Lung (20'), Tan Chun Lok (40') and an own goal from Laos midfielder Lounlasy Lathasay (86'). Laos scored through Kongmathilath Phithack (62').
The second game of the day between Palestine and Chinese Taipei ended in a goalless draw, largely due to the acrobatic efforts of the Chinese Taipei goalkeeper, Pan Wenchieh, who had to fend off 19 shots on target from the Palestinians. The Palestinians must have been heartbroken in the end as they enjoyed a good possession of the ball (64%) throughout the match.
The third game of football started on Aug 12th between Palestine (99) and Laos (178). Finally, Palestine managed to scrape through Laos 2-1, coming from a goal down. Their possession of the ball was again good at 66%, but there were only 8 shots on target at the Laos goal. Goals scorers for Palestine were Qumbor Shehab (83') and Albahdari Abdallatif (90'+5). Laos scored through their captain, Khochalern Phoutthasay (14').
The second game of the day pitted hosts Indonesia against Chinese Taipei. The Taipei goalkeeper, Pan Wenchieh could not save his team as the hosts ran riot with the home crowd behind them and gave a 4-0 thrashing. Goal scorers for Indonesia were Costa Alberto Goncalves da (71'), Hargianto Muhammad (90'+3) and a brace for Lilipaly Stefano Janjte (67' & 76').
At the end of two days of action, Group A is led by Palestine with 4 points, Indonesia with 3, Hong Kong 3, Chinese Taipei 1 and Laos 0.
On 14.08.18, Group B actions kicks off at the Pakansari Stadium, Cibinong with Uzbekistan vs Bangladesh, followed by Qatar vs Thailand.
Group C kicks off at the Jalak Harupat Stadium, Soreang with China vs Timor Leste, followed by Syria vs UAE.
Group D matches will be held at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium, Cikarang with Vietnam vs Pakistan and Japan vs Nepal.