Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

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

A breakdown of the teams in Group F – Japan, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – and what we can expect from each at the January 5-February 1 tournament

Japan's Maya Yoshida, right, in action with Belgium's Romelu Lukaku at the 2018 World Cup. Reuters
Japan's Maya Yoshida, right, in action with Belgium's Romelu Lukaku at the 2018 World Cup. Reuters

Japan

Fifa world ranking: 50

Ranking in Asia: 3

Previous Asian Cups: 8

Best performance: Champions (1992, 2000, 2004, 2011)

2015 Asian Cup: Quarter-finals

Nickname: Samurai Blue

Manager: Hajime Moriyasu

Captain: Maya Yoshida

Player to watch: Takumi Minamino

Fixtures: January 9 v Turkmenistan (Abu Dhabi); January 13 v Oman (Abu Dhabi);

January 17 v Uzbekistan (Al Ain)

Since the heartbreaking loss to Belgium that ended their World Cup dream in the last 16 last July, Japan have been in prolific form on a five-match unbeaten streak under new manager Moriyasu.

The former Under 23 manager had enough talent at his disposal that he was able to leave Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki and Borussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa out of his squad.

Japan should have more than enough firepower to top Group F and are likely to be there or thereabouts at the business end of the tournament.

Oman players celebrate after winning the Gulf Cup of Nations 2017 final on penalties. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP
Oman players celebrate after winning the Gulf Cup of Nations 2017 final on penalties. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

Oman

Fifa world ranking: 82

Ranking in Asia: 10

Previous Asian Cups: 3

Best performance: Group stage (2004, 2007, 2015)

2015 Asian Cup: Group stage

Nickname: The Reds

Manager: Pim Verbeek

Captain: Ahmed Mubarak

Player to watch: Ahmed Mubarak

Fixtures: January 9 v Uzbekistan (Sharjah); January 13 v Japan (Abu Dhabi); January 17 v Turkmenistan (Abu Dhabi)

Under former Australia manager Pim Verbeek, Oman won the keenly contested Gulf Cup of Nations title in early 2018 and take confidence from that performance and several other strong showings throughout the rest of the year into the Asian Cup.

Oman have never advanced beyond the group phase of the continental championship in their previous three involvements in the competition, but the pragmatic Verbeek has built a resolute side that mixes youth and experience in equal measure.

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Turkmenistan's Amanov Arslanmyrat is the man to watch for his national team at the 2019 Asian Cup. Getty Images
Turkmenistan's Amanov Arslanmyrat is the man to watch for his national team at the 2019 Asian Cup. Getty Images

Turkmenistan

Fifa world ranking: 127

Ranking in Asia: 25

Previous Asian Cups: 1

Best performance: Group Stage (2004)

2015 Asian Cup: Did not qualify

Nickname: Emeralds

Manager: Yazguly Hojageldyyew

Captain: Arslanmyrat Amanov

Player to watch: Altymyrat Annadurdyyew

Fixtures: January 9 v Japan (Abu Dhabi); January 13 v Uzbekistan (Dubai); January 17 v Oman (Abu Dhabi)

Turkmenistan return to the Asian Cup finals for the first time since 2004, when they were eliminated on their debut appearance at the end of the group phase.

Coached by Yazguly Hojageldyyew and built around the Altyn Asyr side that reached the 2018 AFC Cup final, Turkmenistan secured their place at the finals by finishing second in their qualifying group behind Bahrain.

Hector Cuper guided Egypt to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. EPA
Hector Cuper guided Egypt to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. EPA

Uzbekistan

Fifa world ranking: 95

Ranking in Asia: 14

Previous Asian Cups: 6

Best performance: Fourth place (2011)

2015 Asian Cup: Quarter-finals

Nickname: White Wolves

Manager: Hector Cuper

Captain: Odil Ahmedov

Player to watch: Odiljon Xamrobekov

Fixtures: January 9 v Oman (Sharjah); January 13 v Turkmenistan (Dubai); January 17 v Japan (Al Ain)

Uzbekistan's neat passing game has made them Asian Cup regulars since the nation emerged from the Soviet Union and they will be looking to finally go a step further than their single semi-final spot in 2011 under former Valencia and Egypt manager Hector Cuper.

Versatile midfielder Odiljon Xamrobekov was the standout player when the White Wolves won the Under 23 Asian Cup in January and he will no doubt feature somehwere in Cuper's side.

The Uzbeks did not enjoy a stellar 2018 otherwise but should have enough quality to get out of Group F, even if it is behind four-times champions Japan.

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Updated: January 1, 2019 10:37 AM

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