Countdown To

AFC Asian Cup

Countdown To

AFC Asian Cup

Reigning champions Japan will be looking to add to their record haul of four AFC Asian Cup titles in Australia in 2015.

In the past  25 years, Japan have routinely beaten the best Asia has to offer in the region’s premier tournament.

The Blue Samurai defeated  Saudi Arabia, the then defending champions, in the AFC Asian Cup final in 1992 and 2000, beat hosts China for trophy number three in front of a hostile Beijing crowd in 2004, and then pipped Australia in 2011 for a record fourth title.

AFC Asian Cup hosts Australia will know only too well about the potency of their line-up. The Socceroos were knocked out of the quarter-final stage of the AFC Asian Cup by Japan in 2007, and then again in the 2011 final, thanks to a spectacular volley by substitute striker Tadanari Lee in extra-time.

The man to make that decision to bring Lee on, long-time coach Alberto Zaccheroni, departed following the 2014 World Cup leaving the Japanese to regroup ahead of taking on Asia's best Down Under. 

However, even with a new coach at the helm, having the likes of superstars Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa running the midfield will ensure it will make it an immensely tough proposition for any side standing between Japan and a fifth Asian championship.

World Cup: Heading into the 2014 tournament confident of progressing past the group stage, the Blue Samurai were undoubtedly disappointed with their performances in Brazil. 

They were the first to score in their opening match against the Ivory Coast through a Keisuke Honda bullet but two second-half goals in two minutes ensured they began their campaign with a loss.

Zaccheroni's men seized the advantage in their second match when Greece were reduced to 10 men but the Japanese couldn't find a winner as the match ended scoreless. 

Needing a victory and other results to go their way in their final group clash they were unable to match it with the classy Colombians as they went down 4-1 to bow out of the tournament. 

Coach: Following the 2014 FIFA World Cup Alberto Zaccheroni stepped down from his position with Mexico's Javier Aguirre expected to replace the Italian.

Fast Facts
Population: 128 million
FIFA ranking: 45
Ranking among Asian nations: 1
Year of first attempt: 1988
Previous attempts: seven 
Best finish: champion 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011
Qualified: automatically as defending champion
Players to watch: Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Shinji  Kagawa (Manchester United, England), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz 05, Germany), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan, Italy)

Asian Cup History
  • Tournaments Played7
  • Best Performance1st (2011)
  • Last Position (2011)1st
  • Number of Top 4 Finishes5
  • Games Played 37
    Won 21
    Draw 11
    Lost 5
  • Goals For 72
    Goals Against 37
Players to Watch
Of 1
Regular Club :Manchester United

Kagawa made the move to Europe in 2010 where he played for Borussia Dortmund before being signed by current club Manchester United.

He will be hoping to lead Japan to success in Australia after missing the Blue Samurai’s 2011 Asian Cup final victory after being injured in the semi-final.

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