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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 April 2019

Lowdown: How the Asian Cup champions fare in their title defences

As 2015 winners Australia start their campaign in the 2019 competition in the UAE on Sunday against Jordan here is a look at how the victors at the past five past tournaments got on in their bid to make it two on the trot

Australia are the defending AFC Asian Cup champions and begin their title defence against Jordan in Al Ain on Sunday. AFP
Australia are the defending AFC Asian Cup champions and begin their title defence against Jordan in Al Ain on Sunday. AFP

Australia start their bid to retain the Asian Cup on Sunday when they play Jordan in their opening Group B game at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.

They won the competition for the first time in their history four years ago when James Troisi's goal in extra time saw them defeat South Korea 2-1 in Sydney.

But how have the defending champions done in the past in the competition at repeating their triumph? Here is a look at how the recent winners have fared.

2015 Japan

It had all gone initially to plan for the Japanese in Australia under the stewardship of manager Javier Aguirre as they won Group D with nine points out of nine.

However, it all went wrong in the quarter-finals in Sydney as they were eliminated by the UAE.

Ali Mabkhout's early goal had put the UAE in charge, but the Japanese levelled nine minutes from time as Gaku Shibasaki found the net.

There were no more goals and the game went to penalties where both Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa failed to convert their spot-kicks, allowing the UAE to prevail and go on to the semi-finals.

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More on Asian Cup:

In pictures: UAE players training ahead of the continental showpiece in Abu Dhabi

Lowdown: Groups, teams, tickets and all you need to know about the tournament

In pictures: Look back on the last time the Emirates host the Asian Cup in 1996

Son Heung-min can ignite South Korea: Five men to watch in the tournament

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2011 Iraq

The 2007 champions began their title defence badly by losing to Iran 2-1 in their opening group game.

But a 1-0 win over the UAE, thanks to a stoppage-time own goal from Walid Abbas, before beating North Korea 1-0 thanks to Karrar Jassim's strike, saw them qualify for the knockout stages.

That was as far as they would go though as they lost 1-0 to Australia, after extra time, in the quarter-finals.

2007 Japan

The Japanese were bidding to win the event for a third time in a row, but came up short at the semi-final stages.

They had qualified top from Group B in matches played in Vietnam and Thailand.

Australia were beaten on penalties in the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw, but they were lost an entertaining semi-final 3-2 to Saudi Arabia in Hanoi despite goals from Yuzi Nakazawa and Yuki Abe.

To rub salt in the wound they lost the play-off for third on penalties to South Korea.

2004 Japan

The last team to successfully win back-to-back Asian Cup titles were the Japanese, who were managed by Brazilian great Zico.

After topping their group they had a scare in the quarter-finals as they were taken to penalties by Jordan where they prevailed 4-3 despite failing to score with their first two efforts.

They needed a last-minute goal from Yuzi Nakazawa to force extra time in the semi-final with Bahrain. Keiji Tamada then struck the winner to put them in the final where they cruised past hosts China 3-1.

2000 Saudi Arabia

The Saudis had won the 1996 tournament by beating the UAE on penalties, and given they had won two in a row in 1984 and 1988, they headed to Lebanon in 2000 hopeful they could match that accomplishment.

Despite being beaten 4-1 by Japan in their opening match, a goalless draw with Qatar and a 5-0 win over Uzbekistan, in which Mohammed Al Shalhoub bagged a hat-trick, took them to the quarter-finals.

They defeated Kuwait 3-2 after extra time before two goals from Talal Al Meshal got them past South Korea 2-1 in the semi-finals.

However, they lost again to Japan in the final 1-0 in Beirut.

Updated: January 6, 2019 08:48 AM

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