2015 AFC Asian Cup Preview: Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia look to lead Group B

Santino Honasan on Jan 06, 2015 07:16 PM
2015 AFC Asian Cup Preview: Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia look to
(Photo Courtesy of www.afcasiancup.com) Former three-time champions Saudi Arabia will look to bounce back from their 15th place finish in the 2011 tournament.

We continue our 2015 AFC Asian Cup preview with a look at the tournament’s Group B, composed of Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, China PR, and Korea DPR (North Korea).




Uzbekistan’s White Wolves are the highest FIFA ranked club in Group B, at 74th. And while they have yet to hoist the AFC Asian Cup trophy, they will be looking to back their FIFA ranking this year. 2011’s fourth placers will be counting on veteran team captain and current leading goal scorer two-time AFC Player of the Year Server Djeparov as well as Odil Ahmedov.


AFC Asian Cup Appearances/Finishes

-          1996: Group Stage

-          2000: Group Stage

-          2004: Quarterfinals

-          2007: Quarterfinals

-          2011: Fourth Place




Saudi Arabia’s Green Falcons booked a ticket to their ninth AFC Asian Cup appearance by finishing at the top of Group C in the Asian Cup Qualifiers last 2013. The former three-time champs got off on a rough start to 2015 after falling to South Korea in a friendly last January 4, but will be looking to bounce back in the bigger stage. The 102nd FIFA-ranked squad will be relying on veteran team captain Osama Hawsawi, Saud Kariri, as well as Nasser Al-Shamrani to lead them back to the top of the AFC Asian Cup mountain.


AFC Asian Cup Appearances/Finishes

-          1984: Champions

-          1988: Champions

-          1992: Runners-up

-          1996: Champions

-          2000: Runners-up

-          2004: Group Stage

-          2007: Runners-up

-          2011: Group Stage




China’s Team Dragon kicked off 2015 with a 4-1 drubbing of Oman in an international friendly as preparation for the AFC Asian Cup. The club qualified for the tournament by being the best Third-placed team during the Asian Cup Qualifiers in 2013, beating out Lebanon, Malaysia, Syria, and Hong Kong. In 11 appearances, China has made it to the Asian Cup semifinals six times, but will be looking to finally go all the way this year. World 97th-ranked China will be led by 2013 AFC Player of the Year and team captain Zheng Zhi.


AFC Asian Cup Appearances/Finishes

-          1976: Third Place

-          1980: Group Stage

-          1984: Runners-up

-          1988: Fourth Place

-          1992: Third Place

-          1996: Quarterfinals

-          2000: Fourth Place

-          2004: Runners-up

-          2007: Group Stage

-          2011: Group Stage




The Chollima of North Korea qualified for the 2015 Asian Cup by reigning supreme during the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, defeating Turkmenistan in the finals. Making only their fourth Asian Cup appearance, the 150th FIFA-ranked club will look to make a big splash in this year’s tournament with the leadership of 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Best Player Pak Nam-Choi and young star Jong Il-Gwan.


AFC Asian Cup Appearances/Finishes

-          1980: Fourth Place

-          1992: Group Stage

-          2011: Group Stage

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