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Documenting the performance of Asian countries at the FIFA World Cup in 20th Century.

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Modified 20 Dec 2019, 16:53 IST

Asia, the largest continent in the world, has 48 countries and more than 4 billion people. It is the home to most of the world's population and several economic powers and expected to have its fair share of talent, yet its performance at the World Cup is far from satisfactory. Teams from the Asia continent have reached the quarterfinal stage only twice in the history, South Korea reached the semifinals on the home turf in 2002, and North Korea reached the last eight in 1966 in England.

According to Wikipedia, football is the most popular sport in Asia, but they never really seem to compete at the world stage and often end up as the worst performing region in the World Cup.

They have a long legacy of failure at the biggest carnival of football. Let's have a look at Asia's history at the FIFA World Cup in 20th Century.

1930 World Cup, Uruguay

Official poster of the 1930 Football World Cup designed by Guillermo Laborde (1886-1940)
Official poster of the 1930 Football World Cup designed by Guillermo Laborde (1886-1940)

Uruguay hosted the first ever football World Cup in 1930. Most of the European countries did not send their teams as travelling to South America was difficult at that time. Citing the same reason, no team from Asia entered the competition. Most of the nations did not want to undertake a 3-week journey across the ocean to Uruguay.

1934 World Cup, Italy

1934 World Cup is unique because it was the first and the last World Cup where host team needed to qualify. There were 16 spots out which 12 were allocated to Europe, three to the Americas, and one to Africa or Asia.

Egypt won the qualifying spot, and hence World Cup proceeded with no teams from Asia.

1938 World Cup, France

Postage stamp commemorating 1938 FIFA World Cup
Postage stamp commemorating 1938 FIFA World Cup

France hosted the 1938 football World Cup. For the first time in history, a team from Asia qualified for the tournament. Indonesia became the first Asian team to compete in the World Cup. They entered the competition under the name Dutch East Indies. Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony comprising of present Indonesia.

Back then World Cup was a straight knockout tournament, and Indonesia holds the record of playing least matches at the World Cup. They bowed out of the competition after suffering a 6-0 defeat against the mighty Hungarians.

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Published 24 Jul 2018, 04:37 IST
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