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China started the tournament with an impressive win over hosts Malaysia and scored five goals in that match. At that stage you would have thought that China would survive the group stage even though it was after just one game. In the next match against Iran, China continued from where they left against Malaysia but unfortunately only as far as half-time.
At half-time China led by two goals to nil through goals from Shao Jiayi and Mao Jianqing and that at stage I think their supporters would have thought it was going to be goals galore again but Iran came back in the second half and levelled the tie with their own two goals from Fereydoon Zandi and Javad Nekounam. Four points to China at that stage and it looked good but that's where it ended.
Against Uzbekistan China held their own until when there were less than twenty minutes to go because thats when Uzbekistan pounced. For Uzbekistan only a win would do and they left it late to score three goals.
I still don't understand why FoxSports decided to show the Iran/Malaysia match live where only Iran could qualify and not the China/Uzbekistan match where both teams still had a chance to qualify for the next round.
Uzbekistan will now meet Saudi Arabia on Sunday. The Saudi's have been very impressive so far with their fast free flowing football and are still to lose a match. Uzbekistan have so far scored a total nine goals and conceding only two and they should give the Saudis a good test.
Also on Sunday Iran will face Korea in Malaysia after winning their group without losing a match. I have watched all Korea's three matches so far and I think they are not at their best yet and they will have to be to go past Iran.
The Saturday quarter-finals will see the Socceroos square up to Japan. That match should be a cracker with Japan actually playing very well and the Socceroos picking up slowly. Graham Arnold will have to decide whether Lucas Neill takes back his spot at the back in defence but I think it would be better to start without him.
Vietnam is the only the host team that managed to advance to the knockout stages. Before the tournament started, I thought no host team would reach the quarter-finals but looking back now Thailand and Indonesia came so close to reaching the quarter-finals there could easily have been three hosts in the quarters. The only disappointing host was Malaysia who shipped in 13 goals and scored just one and no wonder why they have now parted ways with their coach Norizan Bakar.
Back to the match, Iraq should pose a lot of problems for the Vietnamese defence which was given a tough time by the Japanese in the last group match. I would think that Iraq will win this match but given the way things have gone so far in this tournament, it can easily go either way.
Let's see if the 2007 Asian Cup quarter-finals will emulate the just ended Copa America quarters where a
total of 22 goals were scored with the losing teams only scoring two goals out of that number.
Not so sure about Kewell but Cahill should be fit enough to start now. As I said its better to start with the strongest possible lineup available and put pressure on Japan from the word go. Bresciano should make way for Cahill because his contribution has been very minimal and so its better for him to start on the bench in this match.
I think from now on the players must be judged on their form in this tournament rather than reputation. The first match was good for reputation but unfortunately not now and therefore Bresciano should sit on the bench because his form so far doesn't justify a starting place.