The first continental tournament we can expect after the 2014 World Cup is the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup. This is the Asian equivalent of the European Championship which is organized every 4 years. It is the second oldest continental championship after the Copa América (continental tournament of South America). The 17th AFC Asian Cup will kick-off in 2019 in United Arab Emirates. UAE was announced as host country on March 9 2015. It is still unknown when it will be played.
The AFC Asian Cup was for the first time hosted in 1956 in Hong Kong. Only 4 teams participated in that time: South Korea, Israel, Hong Kong and South Vietnam. The tournament didn’t know any knock-out stages so the champion would be the team that gained the most points. South Korea ended up winning the tournament.
The first AFC Asian Cup to include a knock-out stage was the 1972 Asian Cup. The teams played the Semi-Finals and there was an official Final. Iran won with 2-1 against South Korea. Iran won for the first time in 1968 and won the tournament in 1976 as well. They are so far the only team to have won 3 consecutive Asian Cups!
Since 1956 the tournament is organized every 4 years till 2007. After the Asian Cup in 2004, the next should have been organized in 2008. But due to the Summer Olympic Games and the European Football Championship which were held in 2008 as well, the AFC decided to organize the next Asian tournament in 2007. From 2007 on, the tournament is organized every 4 years again.
|Country||AFC Asian Cup||Total|
|South Korea||1956-1964, 1972, 1980-1988, 1996-2015||13|
|Kuwait||1972-1988, 1996-2004, 2011-2015||10|
|United Arab Emirates||1980-1996, 2004-2015||9|
|Saudi Arabia||1984 - 2015||9|
|Iraq||1972, 1976, 1996-2015||8|
|Syria||1980, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2011||5|
|Bahrain||1988, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2015||5|
|Israel||1956, 1960, 1964, 1968||4|
|North Korea||1980, 1992, 2011, 2015||4|
|Indonesia||1996, 2000, 2004, 2007||4|
|Hong Kong||1956, 1964, 1968||3|
|India||1964, 1984, 2011||3|
|Malaysia||1976, 1980, 2007||3|
|Oman||2004, 2007, 2015||3|
|Jordan||2004, 2011, 2015||3|
|Australia||2007, 2011, 2015||3|
|South Vietnam||1956, 1960||2|
|Chinese Taipei||1960, 1968||2|
- Israel became an UEFA member in 1994, since then Israel enters the qualification rounds for the Euro Championship
- South Vietnam ceased to be an AFC member in 1975 and no longer exists
- Australia was an OFC member and became an AFC member in 2006
In the first editions of the AFC Asian Cups the qualification stage was divided teams into zones: Central, Eastern and Western zones. The AFC members (except for the host) entered the qualification rounds and were divided in groups of 4. The 1996 and 2000 AFC Asian Cup qualification rounds contained the highest amount of groups: 10. The format got changed in 2004 where the qualification stage got 2 rounds: the preliminary round and then the qualifiying round. The lowest ranked teams entered the preliminary round and only the top teams of the 7 groups entered the qualifiying round with the higher ranked teams.
Only in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup the qualification round was introduced that was used for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup as well. The host nation, the top 3 winners of the previous AFC Asian Cup tournament and the champions of 2 previous AFC Challenge Cups received a free pass to the tournament. The other teams had to qualify for a ticket except for the teams that participated in those AFC Challenge Cups, there only chance to earn a ticket was to become champion. Find out how the teams qualified for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup!
Japan has the most wins so far: 4. They won in 1992, 2000, 2004 and in 2011. The current champion is Australia. They defeated South Korea with 1-2 in the 2015 Final. The current all-time top scorer is former Iranian player Ali Daei with 14 goals.
Before 2004 the amount of participants varied. In the beginning there were only 4 participants which continued till the 1964 edition. Then from 1968 there was a unique case of 5 participants. In the 1972 and 1974 editions there were 6 participants. For the next 3 tournaments in the 80s the amount increased to 10 participants. In 1992 there was a special case of 8 participants, which changed to 12 in the 1996 and 2000 Asian Cups. Only from the 2004 Asian Cup on, there are 16 participants. It is expected that for the 2019 edition, the amount will once again increase to 24 this time! That is an immediate increase of 8 teams!
The last AFC Asian Cup was organized outside Asia for the very first time in history. Australia was the host country. They were the only bidder for the hosting rights and were officially named host on the 5th of January 2011. Australia is part of the AFC since 2006 and not the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) anymore, and therefore participated in this event as well!
For tickets check out the AFC Asian Cup website.
The groups are:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|South Korea||Saudi Arabia||United Arab Emirates||Jordan|
Palestine played the AFC Asian Cup for the first time. 2 teams of each group advanced to the quarter-finals, where the knock-out stage starts. By winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, Australia qualified for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
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