Just in case anyone's interested.
Iran vs. South Korea Match Preview
Japan vs. Australia Match Preview
Current group standings
Edit: Live youtube stream for Australia vs. Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N18d2-e1K7w
Edit 2: Apparently the youtube stream doesn't work in some regions, so far I know it doesn't work in USA or Australia
Here is what the soccer community thinks;
A bit surprised to see that Iraq has 0 points on the board so far. Also, I hope UAE fights hard for WC qualification this time. Omar Abdul Rahman needs that international stage to prove his quality
His pass in the last game was phenomenal..
Japan aren't as strong as they used to be I don't think, their stars aren't doing as well as they would like in Europe and some of the old guard are perhaps aging. A Japanese friend of mine told me he's very low on confidence with this current team.
As an Iranian, I'm glad we don't have UAE in our group. They are an incredibly difficult team to play against and we always draw against them, so I'm happy they're in the other group. They look like they've improved a lot from that already, and if there is someone to cause an upset as to who goes through from that group, I think the UAE would be the ones to do it.
I agree with you. On a good day, Japan is the best team in Asia, but they've been really underwhelming in recent years. Wish they performed like their women's team (for the sake of Asia)! But one of my favorite football memories in recent years was watching UAE 'shocking' Japan in the Asia Cup semifinals in early 2015 in a crowded pub in Tokyo.
Iran should do well in that group, but that South Korea contest is gonna be really intense for them
Japan is in very very very bad shape.
Japan was the strongest team in Asia, when Zaccheroni built his short passing team centered around a Honda-Kagawa duo, and put master poacher Okazaki as the far side runner. But that team tanked hard on the biggest stage. It was a team built on possession, fluidity, workrate and technique, and relied on the 2nd line trio of Kagawa-Honda-Okazaki to score. In fact, their goal against Iraq marked the first time in years, that Japan scored a winning goal without Kagawa, Honda, Okazaki on the pitch.
After the World Cup, the reactionary cunts at the JFA decided the team needed a center forward. That was the problem. So they began digging up every center forward they could find. None of them really worked out, and Okazaki ended up being a sole center forward instead. During all that, Javier Aguirre's scandal came out, and he got the sack.
Enter Halilhodic, who decided the team needed width, pace. He brought in a glut of wide forwards, pacy dribblers and emphasized take-ons. Now, you have the senior players who prefer a short passing game, and the fresh blood who prefer to take players on. And the two camps don't work together well at all.
Japan's current situation is a result of reactionary policy changing at the JFA. Rather than stick to their strengths and add to it, they keep throwing out systems with every managerial change, and the team has gotten weaker and more disjointed every time.
Quarterfinals mate. UAE lost to australia in the semis and didn't play particularly well. They'd played excellent up until that game though.
Iraq has 0 points because of a mixture of the fact that we're underperforming massively since the last asian cup + shocking refereeing decisions. Had clear penalties not given against Australia and KSA, one of KSA's 2 penalties was ridiculously soft, and against Japan, their first goal was clearly offside.
We've had ridiculously bad luck so far with referees. Doesn't help that we were pretty terrible against Australia and KSA, but those non-calls by the ref could have changed those games.
I normally prefer seeing Japan win (since they never play against Iran anyway) but I just love Timmy Cahill too much haha.