It has been nearly 60 years since Korea has won the AFC Asian Cup. The 2019 Asian Cup is taking place in the United Arab Emirates from January 5th to February 1st. The Asian Cup is an international football tournament held every four years in select Asian countries. It is the second oldest continental football championship competitio
n in the world. The Asian Cup is held to determine the best soccer team in Asia which also comes with other advantages. In the tournament, the top two teams in each of the six groups and top four third place finishers advance to the knockout stages.
The first Asian Cup took place in 1956 where Korea was able to prevail and win their first championship. They did not have to wait long to win another as they won their next championship four years later in the second official Asian Cup. In their history at the Asian Cup, Korea has been runners-up four times, third place four times, and won the Cup two times. Their most recent heartbreaking loss was against Australia in the 2015 Asian Cup Finals losing 2-1 in extra time. It was an upsetting loss for the players and fans knowing that they could have won against Australia in the finals as they did in the group stage.
In the official FIFA rankings, Iran and Japan currently rank ahead of Korea, ranking as the 29th and 50th teams respectively. Korea ranks just behind being the 53rd best national soccer team in the world. Despite Korea having more success in the World Cup than those two countries and having the best soccer player in Asia in Son Heung-Min, they can not claim the title of being the best national soccer team in Asia unless they win the championship. If Korea can win the Cup, they can be determined as the best team in Asia, while also giving them a chance to participate in the FIFA Confederations Cup which is held one year before the World Cup in the host nation.
The FIFA Confederations Cup is a good opportunity for top countries to compete at the highest levels before the World Cup. The top winners from the five main continents, the winner from the Oceania Cup, the host nation for the next World Cup, and the winner of the previous World Cup all combine for eight competitors in the Confederation Cup. By winning, Korea can compete in this tournament and be viewed by other countries around the world as the best in all of Asia.
Korea has had their fair share of unlucky moments in the past as shown by losing four times in the finals and ranking in the top three without winning it all 8 times out of the 13 times they qualified. However, Korea has a lot of momentum riding their way after winning gold in the Asian Games. They have had bad experiences in past Asian Cups, but all of those bad memories can be erased, with an elusive championship in 2019.
Jonathan Kim, Grade 7
Culver City Middle School