Why You Should Care About the Asian Cup
The Asian Cup doesn’t get a tremendous amount of pub outside the continent itself. It isn’t even afforded the luxury of being whined about as club teams lose their stars for a few weeks in the middle of the winter (ahem, Africa).
But it does have appeal, if you’re willing to look in the right places.
A few of the many reasons:
i. Because some of these teams are defensively terrible.
It’s something a bit like the Eredivisie’s appeal: there are a few good teams, some of them talented, but zero finished articles. So occasionally, you get a group like C in 2007…
1-5, 2-0, 5-0, 2-2, 0-2, 3-1
With just one nil-nil in the groups total. The stuff dreams are made of after the summer’s impotence.
ii. Surprisingly, others are actually good.
Take Japan and South Korea, for instance. Neither will dwarf Brazil’s trophy cabinet anytime soon, but they’ve progressed exceptionally well, both on the international stage and domestically. Burgeoning powers? Not yet, but they’ve given a new relevance to what was once almost entirely an overthought in the footballing realm.
iii. Because Cinderellas do exist, Virginia.
Will a Cinderella win the World Cup in our lifetime? Likely not. Think about it – just when was the last time a Cinderella even made the final? A moment to think it over…
The last time what is now a non-traditional power made the final, it was 1962, with Czechoslovakia.
Well, not only do Cinderellas exist in Asia, but they can win, too – just ask defending champeens Iraq.
iv. Get a glimpse of the Qatari national team before the entire roster ends in -inho.
What, you think that’s a joke?
v. More importantly, the tournament is being held in Qatar.
Despite next to no one caring about football in Qatar outside of paycheck-hunting twilighters just a few months ago, everyone should care now with the amount of hubbub surrounding their hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
It will make for an interesting before and after segment, 11 years and several trillion dollars later.
vi. Jong Tae Se.
vii. Watching Keisuke Honda stand over a freekick without the need for T.A.T.U. in the background.
Oh, and Yasuhito Endo’s not bad either.
Japan’s free kick prowess is reason enough to tune in, really. If only they went to ground to win more fouls…
viii. No Jabulani!
It’s actually the same ball being used in La Liga, Serie A and the Prem.
We’ll miss the occasional “what’s it gonna do?”, but not 90 minutes of it.
ix. The timing.
The football in the mid-afternoon European time/early and mid-morning US isn’t exactly bountiful. Easing into work with some Japan-Jordan and India-Australia will not only make the day better, but it also won’t interrupt any evening games European time.
Asian in the morning, European in the afternoon and the Americas in the evening. (Do note these should be reversed if talking cuisines.)
x. You know absolutely nothing about Asian football, and maybe you should, because someday, someone in your conversation just might…and he or she might be attractive.
‘Tis best to be well-versed.
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