2023 AFC Asian Cup Preview: Who Will Win In Qatar?

Published on 11 January 2024 at 20:00

24 of Asia's top team will compete for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, with the likes of South Korea, Japan and Australia the clear favourites to win the entire competition, last won by host nation Qatar in 2019.


This year's final will take place in the stunning Lusail stadium, the largest of its kind in the region, and the venue that hosted the 2022 World Cup final between France and Argentina. The only confirmed fixtures to be taking place in the Lusail stadium for this tournament are Qatar's Group A game against minnows Lebanon, and the final itself. 


Japan look to be the overwhelming top choice for this year's tournament: in blistering form and coming off the back of a strong World Cup campaign at the back end of 2022, the crop of exciting, talent in the Japanese squad that's took Europe by storm makes them the clear favourite to win a record-setting fifth Asian Cup title.


Arguably the two best Asian players right now however belong to South Korea: Spurs star Son Heung-Min and Bayern Munich's defensive bastion Kim-Min Jae have both been in fine form in 2023, and for the former in particular, this year's Asian Cup provides perhaps the final opportunity for Son to establish himself as arguably the greatest Asian player of all time, and build upon his legacy set by winning the 2018 Asian Games. 


Tough tournament football is something that Graham Arnold's Australia side are very familiar with: the Socceroos progressed from a tough World Cup group with France at the expense of Denmark and Tunisia, and still have a squad littered with talent from the English Football League and the Scottish top flight. Rising star Garang Kuol, who has been struggling for minutes in 2023, is still perhaps unlucky to not feature for Australia this time around. 


Read More: Which Players Need A Move This January Transfer Window?


Similar to the concurrently running AFCON tournament, this year's Asian Cup boasts a strong selection of outsiders who could each snatch glory away from the aforementioned favourites. Iran may not have won the tournament since the 1970s (entirely pre-revolution), but strong attacking talent like Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun cannot be forgotten, and the Iranians have caused international stalwarts like Wales and the USA trouble in recent memory.


In modern times, the Middle Eastern sides tend to lack to firepower and star quality of those in East Asia and Oceania, but Saudi Arabia may stand the best chance of causing a mammoth upset in this tournament like host nation Qatar did back in 2019. With the renowned Roberto Mancini at the helm, hopes are high for the Green Falcons to continue their development and enhance their reputation in the beautiful game in the gradual buildup to the 2034 World Cup.


And speaking of the hosts and former winners, Qatar's recent invitations to the Copa America and CONCACAF Gold Cup, the latter of which saw them upset a much-fancied Mexico in the group stage, give them vital recent tournament experience that few on the continent can match. Though the squad is a far cry in form from those who won back in 2019, the home field advantage could pay dividends to Qatar. 


Who do YOU think will the 2023 AFC Asian Cup? Let us know your thoughts on our social channels below!


By Jaspar Shepherdson

(@jasparshepmedia on X/Twitter and Instagram)


Image Credit: Isac Nóbrega/PR on Flickr


Add comment


There are no comments yet.