left corner left corner
China Daily Website  

Beware of the big, bad ROK

Updated: 2014-03-26 08:34
By Agence France-Presse in Sydney ( China Daily)

Host Australia and reigning champion Japan will be keen to avoid fellow heavyweight the Republic of Korea when officials draw the groups for next year's Asian Cup at a lavish ceremony on Wednesday.

South Korea, which has reached eight World Cups in a row, lurks as a dangerous floater in the second pot of teams after temporarily falling outside Asia's top four when the seedings were decided.

Australia, four-time winner Japan, triple champion Iran and Uzbekistan make up the top tier and will be placed at the head of separate groups for the draw at the Sydney Opera House.

As well as the ROK, Jordan, which reached Asia's intercontinental playoff for a World Cup spot, and three-time winner Saudi Arabia loom as threats in the second tier.

And with 2007 champion Iran and sleeping giant China in the third pot, and 2010 World Cup contestant the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the fourth, there is the potential for some tough groups at the tournament next January.

The Socceroos, who joined the Asian confederation in 2006, will hope to use home advantage to win their first Asian Cup after missing out 1-0 in extra time to Japan in the 2011 final.

But coach Ange Postecoglou said he wasn't expecting any favors from the draw after a difficult start to his reign.

"I am not planning on it (having any luck). I haven't had a lot so far," said Postecoglou, who first has this year's World Cup to deal with.

"But that is OK. At the end of the day, regardless of our draw we are at home and we are playing at a major tournament in our country and we want to do well."

The trophy will arrive by boat at the Opera House and be handed over by former Asian Cup winners, Iraq's Younis Mahmoud and Takashi Fukunishi from Japan, to ex-Socceroo Brett Emerton ahead of the ceremony.

(China Daily 03/26/2014 page23)