G'day Newcastle fans, the unfortunately timed Asian Cup is just around the corner, and with Newcastle being significantly impacted by this tournament, I thought I would write an article discussing it.
The Asian Cup is played every four years and is the major continental championship in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). This year's Asian Cup runs from January 5 until February 1 and Australia are the defending champions (hopefully we go back to back).
Newcastle and Brighton are the only Premier League clubs to lose multiple players for the tournament, with Ki Sung-Yeung (South Korea) and Yoshinori Muto (Japan) both heading to the UAE from Newcastle, and Brighton's Mat Ryan (Australia) and Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Iran) are also heading to the tournament. The other Premier League players going to the tournament are Southampton's Maya Yoshida (Japan), and Tottenham's Son Heung-Min (South Korea) who is not playing in their first two group games as a result of his participation in the Asian Games at the start of the season. Son flies out after Tottenham's game on January 13.
Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy (Australia) is unfortunately not playing due to a knee injury (although it is unlikely that he will play club football during this period due to the severity of his knee injury), and Cardiff's Neil Ethridge (Philippines) has not been selected due to his importance to his club side (the Philippines have no realistic chance of winning the tournament and are highly unlikely to get out of their group).
Obviously, most of the clubs impacted are in or around the relegation battle so it will be interesting to see how this tournament affects the battle to stay in the Premier League. Moreover, a lot of the players going to the Asian Cup are important to their clubs (Mat Ryan ranks 6th in the Premier League for saves and we all know how important the two South Korean players are for their clubs), so the tournament could have a significant influence over who plays in the Premier League next season.
With Iran (29), Australia (41), Japan (50), and South Korea (53), being the four highest ranked teams in the AFC and all among the favourites for the tournament, it is highly unlikely any of the Premier League players will be back before the quarter final stage (where there is a strong chance that Australia will meet Japan). The quarter finals are held on January 24 and 25.
Furthermore, the timing of the tournament is unfortunate, but necessary. There are two main reasons why the tournament is at this current time. The first of which is climate. As you would know, a lot of countries in the AFC (particularly in the Middle East, where this tournament is being held), have extremely adverse climates during the Northern summer and as a result, it is simply unsafe to play football during that time. The other reason which is probably more significant is the Asian football seasons. Most Asian football seasons (other than those in the gulf region and Australia) run from around February to December, and the vast majority of players going to the tournament play their club football in these leagues.
I know that many of those reading this will only really care that no Newcastle player gets injured, but I personally can't wait for the tournament (admittedly I am a proud Australian and absolutely love international football). It is a better standard of football than many would think, so if you get the opportunity, it may be worth having a watch.
Anyway, that’s all from me and I'll keep you guys across the Asian Cup via my Twitter (@AUSLiam99) and through articles on here if I get the opportunity.
Come on Australia.
The picture is from: http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2999434