What Asian Cup games can I watch today? Japan kick off bid for fifth title while World Cup hosts Qatar play Lebanon

  • Blue Samurai are considered among the favourites for the tournament despite injury-hit preparations for UAE
  • All eyes on Qatar as the 2022 World Cup hosts look to go further than the quarter-finals
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2019, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2019, 2:02pm

This Asian Cup is going down as one of the best ever with shocks and goalfests dished out in equal measure.

Japan might well wonder which one they will be part of as they begin their quest for a fifth continental crown against Turkmenistan in Abu Dhabi.

The Blue Samurai are among the favourites for the tournament, priced just behind South Korea and Iran.

That view has not differed despite a time of change at the top of Japanese football with Hajime Moriyasu replacing Akira Nishino following the World Cup.

Japan performed admirably in Russia, where they gave Belgium a fright in the knockouts, but there has been changes in the squad.

Big names like Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda have gone, while injury has forced Moriyasu to tinker even more in the run-up to the tournament.

Yoshinori Muto, of English Premier League side Newcastle Unired, and Real Betis winger Takashi Inui have been added to a squad that is still led by Southampton’s Maya Yoshida.

There are fewer household names in the Turkmenistan side, but Altymyrat Annadurdyyew provides the goals.

Turkmenistan coach Yazguly Hojageldiyew thinks his players can be a match for Japan, but the bookmakers disagree.

Japan are $1.1 to win with Turkmenistan a whopping $34 for the upset but as we have seen with India, anything could happen. A draw is $13.

The game kicks off at 7pm at the Al Nahyan Stadium and is live on Fox Sports (channel 670).

Uzbekistan taking on Oman is the next football to feast upon. That game comes from Sharjah Stadium and kicks off at 9.30pm.

A tighter encounter is predicted in Sharjah with the Uzbeks the slight favourites ($2.1) over Oman ($4.33). Honours even is priced at $3.2.

Shanghai SIPG’s Odil Akhmedov is the star man for the central Asians and has a taste for trophies after winning the Chinese Super League last season. There is flair in the form of Sardor Rashidov too.

Former Inter Milan boss Hector Cuper backs his Uzbekistan side, telling the media they did not need friendlies in the lead-up to the Asian Cup.

Oman had mixed results in their own friendlies with a 2-0 win over Thailand coming on the back of a 5-0 loss to Australia.

They will need Faiyz Al Rusheidi, in as a replacement for former Premier League man Ali Al Habsi, to pull out all the stops in goal if they are to get a result.

Ahmed Kano is the key man in the Oman outfield and the veteran will be expected to pull the strings.

The action comes live on Fox Sports (channel 670).

The final first group game is Lebanon against Qatar in group E. All eyes are on the next World Cup hosts for a number of reasons, not least because of the politics of the region, but it is the result that will matter as Qatar look to get off to a winning start.

Qatar have never got past the quarter-final stage of an Asian Cup and will need Akram Afif to live up to his potential if they are to go deeper this time out.

The 21-year-old has the ability and former Barcelona youth coach Felix Sanchez could be the man to unlock it.

Qatar beat Switzerland in the build-up to the Asian Cup to send a message of intent but Saudi Arabia sent their own with a 4-0 win over North Korea in the other group game. It’s going to be competitive.

Lebanon are making only their third appearance on this stage and little is expected of Miodrag Radulovic’s squad.

Hassan Maatouk will be integral if they are to make it to their first knockout stage.

Qatar are favourites at $1.74 with the draw at $3.5. A Lebanon win is $6.

The Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain is the venue and the game kicks off at midnight. As ever it is live on Fox Sports (channel 670).