- Qatar (FIFA 114.) has played four training matches in December. They won Egypt (FIFA 9. !!) and Estonia, drawed against Iran and lost by one goal against North Korea. Beating Egypt is certainly something even though I don’t know what kind of squad they had in that match. Qatar is the home team and the whole nation wants to show that getting the World Cup 2022 was not purely because they have money, they can play too!
- Kuwait (FIFA 102.) also played four training matches in December. From the beginning of October they have played 14 training matches. From those they won 10, 3 draws and lost only against Bahrain. They have been playing against rather tough teams like Iran, Irak, North Korea and Saudi-Arabia. They trashed India 1-9 in away game. If you can make any kind of assumptions based on training matches then Kuwait could be one to look for. Quite impressive!
- China (FIFA 87.) is going on strong as usual. Four latest training matches have all ended up on their favor. Irak, Macedonia, Estonia and Latvia have all been defeated.
- Uzbekistan (FIFA 109.) has recently only played against Jordania and Bahrain and drawed them both. Their local league has improved greatly during the past years, but are they able to challenge the other tough teams in this group?
- Saudi-Arabia (FIFA 81.) has a long training season behind them. Last games have brough them 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 one goal defeats. They have played against Angola, Bahrain, Kuwait, Irak and UAE. The results show how evenly balanced the Middle Eastern teams are. Its really difficult to say which one is going to win over another.
- Japan (FIFA 29.) is always one of the favourites. Last official training matches were played in October when they played 0-0 against South Korea. Before that they won Argentina 1-0 in a friendly match. It would be a big scandal if they would not go through from this group.
- Jordania (FIFA 104.) drawed 2-2 against Uzbekistan and won 2-1 against Bahrain. Again, very tough to say which team is better over another: Jordania, Syria and Saudi’s are all fighting for the second place after Japan.
- Syria (FIFA 107.) have 3 match losing streak against UAE, South Korea and Irak. Before that they clinched a win against Irak in their first battle.
- South Korea (FIFA 40.) played only against Syria recently and won 1-0. In October goaless draw against Japan. Always a tough side and will go through from the group stage.
- India (FIFA 142.) will be happy to get a goal in this tournament. They have played a lot of matches during the autumn as they were camping in Portugal. Some low level Portuguese club teams beat them, but not nearly as badly as Kuwait (1-9) and UAE (5-0) did. They managed to get a draw against Thailand and even won Namibia 2-0. But Namibia was visiting without their European pros.
- Australia (FIFA 26.) is number one of Asia in the on FIFA-rankings. In their last match they drawed 0-0 against UAE on 6th of January and before that they got beaten by Egypt 3-0. Aussies are usually a tough tournament team so I am expecting them to pick up their pace as the games go further.
- Bahrain (FIFA 93.) had a tough luck as they were thrown into a group together with Australia and South Korea. In some other group they would have much better chances to qualify. They lost against Kim Il Yong’s North Korea and Saudi-Sheiks. The results show that they have managed to win only twice since October and drawn 3 times in a total of 11 training matches. They almost made it to the WC2010 and were knocked out just by one goal margin. So Aussies and South Koreans should be careful with them.
- Iraki (FIFA 101.) lost one and won one against Syria. They were beaten by China, but managed to get a win against Saudi-Arabia. Irak team is usually a strong one in these competitions and their home crown always expects them to win. Nothing is different this time.
- North Korea (FIFA 108.) has been quite impressive. One draw and one lost against really in-form Kuwait must be considered a quite positive results. After those games they beat Qatar and Bahrain. Last summer they didnt pull off a suprise in the WC and qualify from the group stage, but how about now? It would not be impossible!
- UAE (FIFA 105.) beat Syria 2-0 and India 5-0. Australia didnt manage to score against them either, so perhaps this tells that their defense is in shape?
- Iran (FIFA 66.) is the group favourites. Should go through easily and that is the least their supporters expect. Angola was beaten 1-0 just before the games and against host nation Qatar they drawed 0-0.