Two of this, two of that!
Of the six groups at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Group C looks the most without any complications. China PR and Korea Republic, two Asian football powerhouses, have been clubbed with Philippines and Kyrgyz Republic, who will be making their debuts.
The 2015 finalist Korea, the first team in the group to qualify for the tournament, will be on the hunt for its first title since 1960 while twice runnerup China, whose recent record in the competition doesn’t read well, should have enough firepower to get past the debutants.
Korea qualified for the finals by winning its group in the second round of World Cupcumasian Cup qualifying, winning all eight games and scoring 27 times without conceding a single goal. China finished second in its group and qualified as the fourth best runnerup. Kyrgyzstan was runnerup in its qualification group, losing the top spot to India on headtohead away goals scored, while Philippines went undefeated in its group and finished on top.
Korea had a disappointing World Cup, losing its first two games before recording a memorable 20 win against the defending champion Germany. Since then, it has played six friendly games, winning three — including one against Uruguay — and losing none. It has one friendly, with Saudi Arabia in Abu Dhabi, lined up before its Asian Cup campaign. Son Heungmin, Asia’s most expensive export at €30 million, will be its standout player. While he did guide Korea to an Asian Games medal, he will be hoping to do better and take his country to a first domestic title since 1960 — and make up for losing to Australia in the 2015 final.
China goes into the AFC Cup on the back of an uninspiring run of games. It has played five friendlies in the last two months and managed to win just one.
It will wrap up its preparation for the tournament with friendlies against Iran and Jordan, in Doha. Striker Wu Lei will be China’s main source for goals. The forward, who is set to make his second appearance in the competition, plies his trade with Shang
Leader of the pack: South Korea’s Son Heungmin (No. 13) is the dynamo of the team.