The 2015 AFC Asia Cup final will bring together two teams who have contrasting records as hosts Australia battle two-time winners South Korea.
The duo meet this Saturday at a sold-out Stadium Australia in Sydney in a best defence versus best attack affair. Hosts Australia have scored the most number of goals (12) in the competition while South Korea have the meanest defence which hasn’t conceded a single goal in 5 matches.
South Korea head into the match as slight favorites having beaten the Socceroos 1-0 in the group stages, Lee Jung-Hyup scoring the solitary goal in that clash. Australia scored 8 goals in the group stage, a 4-1 win over Kuwait followed by a 4-0 demolition of Oman, a team the Reds of South Korea could only beat 1-0.
Both teams won their quarterfinal duels 2-0, Son Heung-min and Tim Cahill both scoring a double against Uzbekistan and China respectively, before a similar scoreline win, Australia over UAE, and South Korea over Iraq gave the two teams their tickets to the final.
Uli Stielike’s South Korea have won the cup twice, 1956 and 1960, while Australia are making only their third appearance but they have reached the final on two occasions.
However, there’s a cloud of controversy surrounding the inclusion of Australia in the Asia Cup Federation (AFC) with some Gulf nations reportedly mobilizing a movement that will ensure they are kicked out. “There are indications that prove that such desire exists among the confederations of West Asia to evict Australia (from AFC),” said Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa.
Australia were recruited to the federation in 2006 but has since been accused of receiving more than they give. They are the region’s reigning club champions, have won the female Asian Championship and have qualified to the World Cup twice through the federation.
Meanwhile a brace from Ahmed Khalil helped the United Arab Emirates (UAE) claim the third spot with a 3-2 win over 10-man Iraq.
UAE took the lead at the quarter hour mark, Khalil drilling home from close range only for Iraq to get the equalizer 15 minutes later through Waleed Salem. Iraq took charge of the match with their second just before the interval, Amjad Kalaf finding the back of the net from a rebound.
However, a resurgent UAE drew level through Khalil before Ali Mabkhout converted from the spot to give UAE the win and perhaps hand himself the golden boot award.
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