Reigning champions Australia will be determined to defend the crown they won on home soil in 2015 after a thrilling extra-time win over South Korea. The Antipodeans will be among the favourites to retain the title, but face fierce competition from the likes of Japan,
The biggest ever Asian Cup is set to be the best one ever, too, with several teams also showcasing their skills in Russia this summer. Perennial qualifiers Japan, South Korea, Iran and Australia will be looking to build momentum with strong showings in Russia this month. A feast of football awaits – we can’t wait for it to start.
Bahrain, India, Thailand, UAE
One to Watch – India: India remained the only South Asian team to qualify for the tournament. Despite a bitter end to the Asian campaign in all three of India’s group games previously in Qatar, they are very hopeful this time.
Australia, Jordan, Palestine, Syria
One to Watch – Australia: The golden age of the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka may be a fading memory, but Australia still possess a big match temperament and proved last time out in 2015 that they have what it takes to rule over Asia.
China, Korea Republic, Kyrgyz Republic, Philippines
One to Watch – Korea Republic: One of Asia’s most potent sides, the South Koreans will pose a serious goal threat to all-comers with Tottenham striker Son Heung-Min ready to shine on the international stage alongside former Sunderland man Ji Dong-won.
Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Yemen
One to Watch – Iran: Write off this Iran side at your peril. They cruised through qualification for the 2018 World Cup and will have their sights firmly set on securing a record-equalling fourth Asian Cup trophy – and a first since 1976.
Lebanon, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
One to Watch – Qatar: They’ve appeared nine times but only progressed to the quarter-finals twice. Led by Felix Sanchez, this is a squad that is on the up and ready to make a big challenge.
Japan, Oman, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
One to Watch – Japan: The most successful side in Asian Cup history will be going all out to make up for a disappointing 2015 campaign and should ease their way into the knock-out stages, where greater challenges will await.