2015 Asian Cup Preview
The host nation Australia feature in this group and should qualify along with South Korea for the knock-out stages. Oman and Kuwait complete the group but will not trouble either the hosts or the Koreans. The Socceroos have never won the Asian Cup but they have a wealth of tournament experience (including a promising performance at the Brazil World Cup last summer) and they are playing on home soil so they could well go all the way this time round.
Not quite a ‘group of death‘ but certainly the most unpredictable of the four groups sees three-times champions Saudi Arabia, sleeping giant China and dark horses Uzbekistan all vying for the top two spots, while North Korea are really there to make up the numbers. Saudi Arabia will surely not have as poor a tournament as last time out and I think China and North Kore will miss out with the Central Asian side Uzbekistan progressing to the last 8.
Iran, despite difficulties in preparation for the tournament, should make it through to the last 8 where they will probably be joined by the UAE. The 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar will be keen to impress but they, along with Bahrain, will fall short this time round.
Holders Japan should easily qualify in top spot, while Palestine – making their first appearance in the Asian Cup – will probably finish last; meaning that it is a fight between Jordan and Iraq for the second qualifying place. Iraq memorably won the Cup in 2007 but they will find it hard to get through this time round so I am going for the Jordanians to qualify along with Japan.
host nation: The country where the tournament takes place
Socceroos: The nickname of the Australian football team
a wealth of tournament experience: A lot of experience (wealth of)
sleeping giant: A team that should be doing much better (a big team that is under performing)
vying for: Pushing for; battling; trying to qualify
will fall short: They will fail to qualify
will miss out: Fail to qualify