The 2014 FIFA World Cup can so far be succinctly summarized as one of the most intriguing World Cup in recent memory. With several big teams exiting early and some surprise packages showing their mettle unperturbed by reputations, the World Cup has been a joy to watch. Unfortunately for the Asian confederation, the journey has come to an abrupt end.
With teams closer to the locality of the competition – this time around teams from the American continents – traditionally performing well during the World Cup as evidenced in the current tournament, the players of Japan, Iran, South Korea and Australia had their work cut out in each of their respective groups. Although each team gave it a go, with Australia and Iran in particular close to causing an upset against giants of world football Netherlands and Argentina, in the end the Asian teams found it hard to break down resolute opposition defenses in most of their matches; and in games where they were able to do so, their own line of resistance flailed.
Qualification to the next stage of the tournament may have been out of reach for the Asian teams, but AFC President, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, believes that the tournament was not a lost cause for Asian football. “This World Cup serves as a lesson to all Asian nations. The Asian teams are rather young on average so they can only get better, but what is of particular importance now is that we stay united. We have shown time and again that we can compete with the best of the global game, and with total commitment from everyone we will definitely improve ourselves and catch up on the rest of the world,” he said.
“Asia must acknowledge its shortcomings, but at the same time we must believe in our own ability. The AFC is determined to unlock the full potential of Asian football, and that can only be achieved through hard work, dedication and unwavering support in AFC’s efforts to have equal and sustainable football development across the continent,” he added.
Sheikh Salman further stated, “We must bring our game to the next level and there is no time to wait. Football will not slow down and nor will the rest of the world. Our brand new initiatives are planned with progress in mind, as we look to enhance the overall quality of our football, from infrastructure, commercial, competition to administration, and hopefully its effects are evident by the next World Cup.”
The 2014 World Cup might be a disheartening experience for Asia, but all teams would do well to brush themselves off quickly as the AFC Asian Cup 2015, which will be held in Australia in January, is just around the corner.