‘Group F’ Consists of four times champions Japan former semi-finalist Uzbekistan along with Oman and Turkmenistan. We take a look at all four teams and their chances in the Asian Cup.
Japan are clear favourites in to top this group followed by Uzbekistan. Oman and Turkmenistan who will face of each other in their last game will fight for a chance to qualify to knockouts via 3rd place.
Japan are one of the favourites heading into the tournament. After a good world cup campaign their manager Hajime Moriyasu decided to drop out of form seniors to give chance for mire deserving young players which resulted in the likes of Kagawa and Okazaki being dropped.
The faith in their youngsters by their manager have been repaid as Japan have managed to stay undefeated since the world cup including a win over full strength Uruguayan side.
Expected Formation: 4-2-3-1
Key Players: Yuya Osako, Genki Haraguchi
Uzbekistan have been consistently a side which are below the top 4 or 5 Asian teams. They are a side who have neither improved more declined over the last few years. They have always fallen short of WC qualification and their best finish was a last four finsih in 2011 Asian Cup where they got absolutemy trashed by Aussies in semis.
All that can change in 2018. They have hired Héctor Cúper the man who took Eygpt to World Cup after 28 years and has won La Liga manager of the year and UEFA club manager of the year awards. Uzbekistan have gone to the tournament with a young squad and under new leadership the White Wolves can be hopefull they can leave a big mark at this stage and even challenge for the title.
Expected Formation: 4-3-3
Key Players: Dostonbek Khamdamov, Odil Ahmedov
Oman had a great 2018 and their only loss was against Australia in friendly. The Reds look well prepared heading into this competition playing about 5 games last month. The major concern for Oman though will be injury to their goalkeeper Ali Al -Habsi who is regarded as one of best Asian goalkeepers of this generation.
Oman have consistently qualified for Asian Cup since 2004 but never managed to make it out of group stage. This year with a new format in place Oman can be looking to change that record.
Expected Formation: 4-2-1-3
Key Players: Khalid Al-Hajri, Saad Al-Mukhaini
Turkmenistan are clearly the weakest team in this group on paper. They are also massively underprepared having played only two games in 2018. They last qualified for Asian Cup in 2004 where they could not manage to make it past the group stage and their chances of making it out of this group look bad to unless we are in for some surprise.
Expected Formation: 4-2-3-1
Key Players: Ruslan Mingazow, Wahyt Orazsähedow
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Indian football must focus more on grassroots level