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Japan shame World Cup yet profit from 'fair play'

World Cup
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Qatar's Asian Cup win shows that possession could be poison in international football

From the universality of Total Football to the Petrosian-like stoutness of Jose Mourinho, it has always been said football has an evolutionary or permutable quality.

Rules have sometimes influenced dominant tactics, much like changes to offside laws creating the W-M formation, or the back-pass rule facilitating the implementation of targeted pressing and higher defensive lines.

More often than not, however, tactical shifts and trends are based on ideology.

And so when Qatar comfortably defeated...

Japan's Asian Cup exploits highlight Shinji Kagawa's sharp decline

Qatar cruise to the AFC Asian Cup final for the first time with a comfortable 4-0 win over the United Arab Emirates.

The last time Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga back in 2012, Shinji Kagawa was a crucial part of the team.

Fast-forward to now, as the German side sit pretty on top of the table heading into February, the 29-year-old is a bit player at best. Still, that is more than he manages with his homeland.

The last time Japan became Asian champions in 2011, the playmaker was one of the stars. As he watches his compatriots on television on Friday in the final of the 2019 Asian Cup against Qatar, Kagawa...

Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea lead expanded field at '19 Asian Cup

The newly-expanded 2019 Asian Cup that kicks off on Saturday in Abu Dhabi with hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) against Bahrain may feature some new teams but those contesting the final on Feb. 1 in the same city are likely to be more than familiar.

The usual quartet of Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran are favourites among a field that now contains 24 runners instead of 16. Only the last of that quartet still have the same coach in the UAE as they had in Russia last summer at the World Cup....

 By John Duerden

South Korea, Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Australia looking to January's Asian Cup

Asia's five teams are all home from Russia, but January's 2019 Asian Cup already looms large on the horizon.

Here's a look at lessons all the AFC nations learned from the 2018 World Cup and what needs to be done in the coming weeks and months.

South Korea

Despite the stunning 2-0 win against Germany, South Korea's World Cup was a disappointment. There were some positives with the Taeguk Warriors, however.

First and foremost, the team have their No. 1 for the Asian Cup and perhaps years to come....

Japan's lesson in manners after Belgium defeat as dressing room is spotless

Japan players gave a lesson in manners after Monday's heart-breaking defeat to Belgium in the last 16 of the World Cup by leaving their changing room at the Rostov Arena spotless.

The Blue Samurai looked to be heading for a historic win after taking a 2-0 lead early in the second half but Belgium hit back, with Nacer Chadli's goal the last kick of the game to win it 3-2.

Despite the sadness and disappointment at their elimination, the Japan players stuck around after the final whistle to thank their...

The nature of Belgium's dramatic win over Japan could spell trouble for Brazil test

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- Monday's game kicked off at 3 a.m. Tokyo time. An unsociable hour, so provisions were made, specifically by Tokoji Temple in Shizuoka, which opened its doors to allow local fans to watch their Japan side play Belgium in an atmosphere of zen Buddhist calm. One hopes a few of them took up the offer, because it might be the only way of reconciling how Japan managed to lose.

Belgium will need no such cerebral soothing. Through by the skin of their teeth, a team featuring Romelu...