“Asian dominance” is an old saying, the evolution of Middle Eastern soccer that East Asian powerhouses let their guard down
Middle Eastern football’s strides were outstanding.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup ended after more than a month of journey. Qatar, the “host country,” has won two consecutive tournaments since the 2019 UAE tournament, and Jordan is the runner-up. Third place was Iran, which lost to Qatar in the semifinals, and fourth place was South Korea, which lost to Jordan and was eliminated in the semifinals.
Although Qatar’s first two consecutive losses and Jordan’s first runner-up record have been poured out, it should not be overlooked that the overall level of Asian soccer has risen. In particular, Qatar, Jordan, and Iraq, which were treated as second-rate players in the Middle East, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, have emerged rapidly.
Of the teams that advanced to the round of 16 strongest teams, nine are from the Middle East. The figure is overwhelming when compared with Northeast Asia (Korea, Japan), Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia), and Central Asia (Uzbank, Tajikistan). Just looking at Jordan (2-2 draw) and Iraq (3-2 win), which each had a blow to South Korea and Japan, the “candidate” in the second group match, proves that things are different from before.
The strong team has a common denominator that a clear scorer, or star player, is leading the team. Starting with Akram Afif, Qatar, who won the championship, he represented teams such as Aymen Hussein in Iraq and Musa Al Tamari in Jordan, and established himself as a target of vigilance in his opponents.
Gone are the days when the Middle East team only focuses on its unique physical capabilities. Asian powerhouses Korea and Japan are armed with mental strength as well as technological prowess. As Asian powerhouses are set to participate in major championships with all three beats, including physical strength, individual skills, and mental strength, Asian traditional powerhouses are bound to be nervous.
When South Korea drew with Jordan in the second group match, Japan was also shocked by Iraq. The Qatari media “Raya Sports” also carried an article on the top under the title, “Middle East countries are conquering East Asian teams one after another.”
Ulsan HD coach Hong Myung-bo, who led the national team, said, “Watching the Asian Cup, I thought that Asian soccer has grown to a new level. In particular, the team was weak in the past except for powerhouses such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, but now the rest of the teams have made great strides.”
“In order for Korean soccer to become stronger in the Asian stage, it needs players who play with royalties to the country as a whole. There are European players, but K-League players also need to grow together. As I felt in ACL, Asia itself has become a competitive system,” he added.
The Middle East’s presence in world soccer is gradually growing. An example is an increase in international competitions held in the Middle East from the late 2010s. There are more competitions where visitors can gain experience in international sports, including the 2019 UAE Asian Cup, FIFA Qatar Arab Cup, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 유흥알바
Qatar, the host country, succeeded in attracting the most spectators in history until the Asian Cup following the World Cup. The next Asian Cup will be held in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is also hoping to host the World Cup. It shows its willingness to stockpile enormous power based on its experience in international competitions.
Now, the nickname “candidate” and “dominant power of Asia” has become an old saying. In order for Korea to regain its honor and strengthen its power on the Asian stage, it is time to thoroughly prepare for the global soccer situation and emerging countries in the Middle East.