Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Asia: Too close to call in Big Three nations

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on July 18, 2010
Kashima Antlers

Kashima Antlers remain on top of the J-League after a 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale

Things are getting interesting in the three biggest league championships of Asian football. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog highlights the latest developments in Japan, China and South Korea.

The top of the J-League table shows the top three teams separated by just two points after thirteen games. Champions Kashima Antlers are back on top of the table after a 2-1 win at home to Kawasaki Frontale with Jung Soo-Lee scoring the winning goal for Kashima in the 78th minute. Kawasaki had played with ten men for all of the second half after former Eintracht Frankfurt star Junichi Inamoto was sent off late in the first half and would eventually be made to pay after resisting the Kashima attack for so long. Shimuzu S-Pulse were top of the table before the weekend’s matches but drop into second place after a disappointing goalless draw at home to twelfth place Jubilo Iwata whilst Nagoya Grampus Eight closed the gap thanks to a Joshua Kennedy strike in the 76th minute to gain a slender 1-0 win over Omiya Ardija. Omiya are second bottom after Shonan Bellmare managed to jump from bottom (18th) place into 16th thanks to a 1-0 win away at Kyoto Sanga who now occupy the bottom spot thanks to that defeat.

In South Korea four points separate the top seven teams in another closely fought championship race. Ulsan Hyundai occupied the top spot before the weekend’s matches began but suddenly found themselves in fifth place after their 1-0 defeat at home to Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. Jeju United are now at the top of the table following a 5-0 rout over second bottom club Gangwon FC. Seoul FC stay in third spot despite their 1-0 defeat away at Incheon United while Gyeongnam occupy fourth place after they defeated mid-table outfit Gwangju Sangmu 1-0. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Busan I’Park lie in sixth and seventh respectively having each put four goals past their hapless opponents. Jeonbuk beat lowly Daejeon Citizen 4-0 while Busan ensured that 2009 Asian Champions League winners Pohang Steelers remain in domestic despair following a 4-2 win. The Steelers are just two points and three places clear of bottom team Daegu FC as their K-League form remains in stark contrast to their performances at Asian level.

China’s Super League also sees a neatly bunched selection of clubs at the top of the table with six teams separated by four points. Shanghai Shenhua remain top despite dropping two points at home to fifth place Henan Jianye following a spectacular match which finished 3-3, the away side coming from 2-0 down to take the lead before Shanghai equalized fifteen minutes from time thanks to Duvier Riascos. This allowed Luneng Taishan to close the gap between themselves and Shanghai to just a point after they defeated Nanchang Bayi 1-0 with Zheng Zheng’s 55th minute goal enough to settle the match in Luneng’s favour. Hangzhou Greentown also remained in the running after a 2-0 victory over Shaanxi Chanba while Liaoning jump into fourth place on the back of a 2-1 win over Jiangsu Shuntian. Defending champions Beijing Guo’an missed the opportunity to close the gap and remain in sixth place following a heavy 3-0 defeat away at Dalian Shide

FIFA World Cup Review – Asia

Posted in Asian Football, International Football by peterbein on July 12, 2010

Keisuke Honda

Keisuke Honda celebrates his goal in Japan's 3-1 win over Denmark

Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the Asian nations’ performances in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Japan and South Korea both qualified for the knock out stages of a World Cup for the first time outside of their own continent. Both countries reached the last sixteen in their co-hosted 2002 tournament and this competition was a small bit of history for Asian football’s two powerhouse nations. Australia were playing for the first time as an “Asian” country having qualified in 2006 through the Oceania regional qualifying round. North Korea played in only their second World Cup finals having competed for the only time in 1966.

Japan had the best record out of the Asian nations winning two of their three group games, their only reverse in this section being against eventual World Cup finalists the Netherlands to whom they lost by a slender 1-0 scoreline. Their two victories came against a disappointing Cameroon (1-0) and Denmark who they impressively swept aside by three goals to one with Keisuke Honda amongst the goals, thus increasing his blossoming reputation. Japan met Paraguay in arguably the least entertaining of the round of sixteen matches and were unfortunate to have to lose in a penalty shoot out, Yuichi Komano being the unlucky player to miss his spot kick in a 5-3 defeat for the Japanese.

South Korea were in an easier group on paper and looked impressive in their opening group game against Greece (2-0) but were brushed aside by Argentina (4-1) before scraping the point they needed to qualify for the round of sixteen stage when drawing 2-2 with Nigeria. Ultimately it was Argentina’s 2-0 win over Greece that helped the Koreans qualify for a knock out encounter with Uruguay, a match which began the post-group stage football. Lee Chung-Yong was the scorer for South Korea but his goal was the filling inbetween a Luis Suárez sandwich of goals in a game that the Uruguayans won 2-1. It was a sad end to what was a good tournament for the South Koreans and the idea of them having reached the quarter-final was never far-reaching but, alas, the South Americans just had that little bit more experience in the end.

Australia were confident going into their group matches but were given a huge wake-up call by a wonderful Germany team whose 4-0 victory over the Socceroos was one of the team performances of the tournament. They improved for their second game against Ghana but after Brett Holman had given the Socceroos the lead, Asamoah Gyan, one of the players of the tournament, equalized to give the west Africans a share of the points. The Australians were not to have much luck in the competition as Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell were both sent off in their opening two matches and, despite winning their final match against Serbia by two goals to one, they were to miss out on a place in the knock out stages due to an inferior goal difference against Ghana.

North Korea provided one of the moments of the competition when, during the national anthems before their opening group match against Brazil, Jong Tae Se’s emotions got the better of him, crying throughout. North Korea put up a respectable performance against the five-time world champions, keeping them goalless at half-time. However Maicon and Elano gave the Brazilians a two goal lead before Ji Yun-Nam pulled one back in the dying moments of the match. But that was as good as it would get on the goalscoring front for North Korea as they were totally outclassed in their other two group matches against Portugal (7-0) and Ivory Coast (3-0). Nevertheless it was fantastic to see them make an appearance and one can only wonder if it will take another 44 years for them to make another World Cup appearance………