Asian teams poised to suffer worst World Cup outing since 1990
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) teams are heading for their first World Cup blank in 24 years, with Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran failing to muster a victory in nine matches so far.
In the latest setback, Australia lost their third and final match 3-0 to Spain on Monday night.
South Korea went down 4-2 to Algeria in Porto Alegre on Sunday after drawing their Group H opener 1-1 against Russia, leaving them with slim hopes of making the last 16.
Japan have also disappointed, losing 2-1 to Ivory Coast in their first match in Group C and then failing to find the net against 10-man Greece in a 0-0 stalemate. Iran can hold their heads high after they battled hard against Argentina on Saturday before a stunning injury-time strike from Lionel Messi gave the South Americans a 1-0 victory.
The results for the teams from the AFC spell bitter disappointment after notable progress at recent World Cups.
In the 1990 World Cup in Italy, neither the UAE nor South Korea notched a win.
But at the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Saudi Arabia reached the knockout phase, and four years later Iran beat the US in France in a group match.
At the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, South Korea stunned the football world by reaching the semi-finals, and Japan made the round of 16.
Four years later, in Germany, it was Australia’s turn to shine, reaching the knockout phase before being narrowly and controversially beaten by eventual champions Italy.
In South Africa 2010, Japan reached the last 16 again only to go out on penalties to Paraguay.
Alberto Zaccheroni, Japan’s coach, has been left scratching his head as he searches for ways to get his toothless forward line to fire, with his side still harbouring outside hopes of qualification for the next round.
“We know that overall our play over the past four years has been far better than how we have performed here and we all understand that,” he said ahead of their match against Colombia on Tuesday.
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Published: June 24, 2014 04:00 AM