Okay, I should be cheered up better. It’s an all East final. Featuring both of my favorites.
It’s all your fault, Japan.
But, had Japan was in the final, the mood be sourer than on Sunday. Korea v Japan would have been a nasty stuff. Japan v Australia in the semis, as interesting and ideal it was, would have been too much for many people on both sides of the Pacific.
Instead, in peaceful Australia it was an all-peaceful tournament. No Korea v Iran. Thank you Iraq. No Japan v China. On second thought, that would have been impossible.
The causes of Japanese terrible performance are clear. Stupid Aguirre put the same 11 throughout group stage – I won’t even do that on World Cup 2014 (yes, we couldn’t reenact the tournament on Pro Evolution Soccer 2015). Okazaki and Honda were too exhausted, too nice (the former), too nervous (the latter). Korea were lucky Lee Jung-hyup and Cho Young-choul were able forwards (and unlike Javier Aguirre, Uli Stielike was wise enough to deploy them), and the ranked-100th Australia employed their full potential at the right time, just like in movies.
UAE have the chance to be a hipster’s team now. Maybe less in Australia, after it’s revealed that Gulf nations want to expel Australia from the AFC since uh, it’s the new guys who went to the World Cups instead of them. I thought the biggest Australian haters in AFC would be something like China or Malaysia. Australia might secretly want a nasty rivalry, but it won’t be with Japan – it’d be with Saudi Arabia (the spitting incident), Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
Having said that, be assured that Asian football hipsters will look for UAE merchandises, and also free stuff related to Omar Abdulrahman. Wonderful, JFA, now UAE Pro League has better chance to be featured on FIFA than J. League Division 1 (not that you care).
What’s now? Massimo Luongo, Mat Ryan, and Trent Sainsbury will stay with Swindon, Club Brugge, and Zwolle. But they’d certainly play in a better club next season, just as Kawashima and Kagawa’s positions in Standard Liege and Borussia Dortmund are questionable. It’s a trickier prospect for the Emirates: clubs would have less confidence on them than on new names from Korea and Japan, but the bigger question is, would Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout like to start on mid table clubs in non-English speaking countries? Or in the Championship, like Ali al Habsi?
Finally, with Jason Davidson (quarter-Japanese) and Massimo Luongo (half-Indonesian), let it be said that Australia is an Asian nation in football, and Asian-Australians can make it in Australian sports.
Have a cheerful Valentine’s Day (I’m invited into a wedding. Yippie) and Lunar New Year. On March we’ll have brand new Asian football spectacles, such as India facing Pakistan and Taiwan taking Macau on the first step to Russia 2018.
Heck, even this week we are already in Champions League mood.
AFC Asian Cup 2015 Team of the Tournament
Goalkeeper: Mat Ryan (Australia, Club Brugge)
Defenders: Dhurgam Ismail (Iraq, Al Shorta), Kwak Tae-hwi (Korea, Al Hilal), Trent Sainsbury (Australia, FC Zwolle), Cha Du-ri (Korea, Seoul)
Midfielders: Massimo Luongo (Australia, Swindon Town), Omar Abdulrahman (UAE, Al Ain), Ki Seung-yung (Korea, Swansea)
Forwards: Ali Mabkhout (UAE, Al Jazira), Tim Cahill (Australia, New York Red Bulls), Son Heung-min (Korea, Bayer Leverkusen)
What’s on this February
AFC Champions League
4 February: Yadanarbon (Myanmar) v Warriors (Singapore), Johor Darul Tazim (Malaysia) v Bengaluru (India)
10 February: Ha Noi T&T (Vietnam) v Persib Bandung (Indonesia), Chonburi (Thailand) v Kitchee (Hong Kong), Guangzhou R&F (China) v Yadanarbon/Warriors, Bangkok Glass (Thailand) v JDT/Bengaluru
17 February: FC Seoul (Korea) v Ha Noi/Persib, Kashiwa (Japan) v Chonburi/Kitchee, Central Coast Mariners (Australia) v Guangzhou (surely), Beijing Gouan (China) v Bangkok Glass (likely)
24-25 February: Group stage already! Hectic, isn’t it