The History of the AFC Asian Cup
The Socceroos will have to break the 23-year stranglehold of regional heavyweights Japan and Saudi Arabia if they are to stand on the winners dais at the AFC Asian Cup final in Jakarta later this month.
The Socceroos will have to break the 23-year stranglehold of regional heavyweights Japan and Saudi Arabia if they are to stand on the winners dais at the AFC Asian Cup final in Jakarta later this month. Remarkably the two nations have claimed the last six titles in a run dating back to 1984 when Saudi Arabia claimed the title held by Kuwait who had been shock winners four years earlier.
Prior to Kuwait's home triumph, Iran were champions at the three previous consecutive tournaments, with South Korea winners of the first and second tournament commencing with the initial tournament in 1956. Sandwiched amongst was a lone triumph for Israel who were the only other nation to claim the title, which they did at home in 1964 with the middle east nation having since joined UEFA.
The initial tournament, whilst a relatively humble affair with 12 participating nations, pre-dates the inaugural European equivalent by four years.
By 2007 the tournament had grown to 29 participating nations, including the four host-nations, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. There has also been significant off-field growth with the 2004 final between hosts China and Japan drawing television audiences in the hundreds of millions.
Australia's engagement with Asia has a longer and richer history than many might imagine with a Chinese team visiting Australian shores in 1923 and playing before large crowds just one year after the Socceroos played their first ever international. Similarly, it was Asian opposition for Australia in other historically significant moments such as our first Olympic Games match (v Japan in 1956), and Australia's first World Cup qualifier (v North Korea in 1965). Then of course there is the small matter of Australia's first World Cup finals win against Japan in Germany just over 12 months ago...
A similar match-up come the tournament finale on July 29 is on the cards according to many pundits and a repetition of 'Das Wunder von Kaiserslautern' would do Qantas Socceroo fans nicely!
|1956||Hong Kong||Korea Republic||Israel||Round-robin|
|1960||Korea Republic||Korea Republic||Israel||Round-robin|
|1972||Thailand||Iran||Korea Republic||2-1 (aet)|
|1984||Singapore||Saudi Arabia||China 2-0|
|1988||Qatar||Saudi Arabia||Korea Republic||0-0 (4-3 pens)|
|1996||UAE||Saudi Arabia||United Arab Emirates||0-0 (4-2 pens)|