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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

2019 Asian Cup Group C: Teams, fixtures and key players

A breakdown of the teams in Group C – China, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines and South Korea – and what we can expect from each at the January 5-February 1 tournament

China have not made as much progress as was probably expected under the guidance of experienced manager Marcello Lippi. Karim Jaafar / AFP
China have not made as much progress as was probably expected under the guidance of experienced manager Marcello Lippi. Karim Jaafar / AFP

China

Fifa world ranking: 76

Ranking in Asia: 7

Previous Asian Cups: 11

Best Asian Cup performance: Runners-up (1984, 2004)

2015 Asian Cup: Quarter-finals

Nickname: Team Dragon

Manager: Marcello Lippi

Captain: Zheng Zhi

Player to watch: Wu Lei

Fixtures: January 7 v Kyrgyzstan (Al Ain); January 11 v Philippines (Abu Dhabi); January 16 v South Korea (Abu Dhabi)

When Marcello Lippi took charge of China's troubled national team a little more than two years ago, hopes were high the World Cup-winning Italian could kick-start a long-overdue return to the upper tier of Asian football.

But, as the septuagenarian's tenure draws to a close at January's Asian Cup finals, the question is whether Lippi has made much of a difference at all.

While the former Juventus manager oversaw an upturn in fortunes in the early days of his reign, China go into the tournament in the midst of an indifferent run of form.

Anton Zemlianukhin, centre, is Kyrgyzstan's player to watch at the 2019 Asian Cup. AFP
Anton Zemlianukhin, centre, is Kyrgyzstan's player to watch at the 2019 Asian Cup. AFP

Kyrgyzstan

Fifa world ranking: 91

Ranking in Asia: 12

Previous Asian Cups: 0

Nickname: White Falcons

Manager: Aleksandr Krestinin

Captain: Azamat Baymatov

Player to watch: Anton Zemlianukhin

Fixtures: January 7 v China (Abu Dhabi); January 11 v South Korea (Al Ain); January 16 v Philippines (Dubai)

Kyrgyzstan will be making their first appearance at the Asian Cup finals having qualified for the tournament from a group that featured India, Macau and Myanmar.

The former Soviet Republic gained membership of the Asian Football Confederation in 1994 and lack experience at continental level.

They have enjoyed a mixed build-up, but talented performers such as Anton Zemlianukhin and Vitaly Lux enhance their hopes of a place in the knockout rounds.

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Sven-Goran Eriksson takes training with the Philippines national team. Reuters
Sven-Goran Eriksson takes training with the Philippines national team. Reuters

Philippines

Fifa world ranking: 116

Ranking in Asia: 21

Previous Asian Cups: 0

Nickname: Azkals

Manager: Sven-Goran Eriksson

Captain: Phil Younghusband

Player to watch: Stephan Schrock

Fixtures: January 7 v South Korea (Dubai); January 11 v China (Abu Dhabi); January 16 v Kyrgyzstan (Dubai)

Sven-Goran Eriksson's surprise appointment as manager made headlines around the world, and now the basketball-mad nation is hoping the impact of the Swede's arrival can last beyond the Asian Cup finals.

The Azkals will play in the continental championship for the first time. But it was the appointment of the former England manager on a short-term contract in October that grabbed global attention for Philippine football.

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min, right, is the biggest star player in the South Korean football team. AFP
Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min, right, is the biggest star player in the South Korean football team. AFP

South Korea

Fifa world ranking: 53

Ranking in Asia: 4

Previous Asian Cups: 13

Best Asian Cup performance: Champions (1956, 1960)

2015 Asian Cup: Runners-up

Nickname: Taegeuk Warriors

Manager: Paulo Bento

Captain: Son Heung-min

Player to watch: Son Heung-min

Fixtures: January 7 v Philippines (Dubai); January 11 v Kyrgyzstan (Al Ain); January 16 v China (Abu Dhabi)

Since his appointment in August, Paulo Bento has had little time to get to grips with the job but with the South Koreans unbeaten in his six matches in charge, optimism is building ahead of their opener against the Philippines in Dubai on January 7.

South Korea's task in the group stage has been made more difficult due to the absence of captain Son Heung-min, who will sit out the first two games under an agreement with his club side Tottenham Hotspur.

However, the South Koreans should still have enough firepower to see them through to the knockout stage, with Gamba Osaka striker Hwang Ui-jo enjoying a rich vein of scoring form and Ki Sung-yueng impressing at the heart of the Newcastle United midfield.

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Updated: January 1, 2019 10:39 AM

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