The group stages of the 2014 Fifa World Cup concluded last night, and this year’s staging has been an entertaining and unpredictable one thus far, with big names such as Spain, Italy and Portugal headed back to Europe after playing just three matches.
Asia’s journey in Brazil has come to an unfortunate end, seeing that no Asian team made it through to the next round. Japan, South Korea, Iran and Australia were stellar in their performances in the group stages, with the latter two coming close to edge out juggernauts Argentina and Netherlands respectively. However, other teams proved to be much too strong for them to handle, as Asia becomes the only confederation without a representative in the next round of matches.
While the dreams for an Asian team to lift the World Cup trophy have been brutally crushed, AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa believes that much can be learnt from their participation in the tournament.
“This World Cup serves as a lesson to all Asian nations,” urged the AFC President.
“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.”
“Asia must acknowledge its shortcomings, but at the same time we must believe in our own ability.”
Shaik Salman has also revealed that the AFC will be more committed to further develop the potential of Asian football, which can only be achieved through a collective cooperation between members associations as well as the AFC.
“ [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,” asserted the President.
Sheikh Salman further added that Asia has to raise their standards of football if they want to match up to the rest of the world, saying: “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 Asian confederation have to look past their poor World Cup showing and look ahead to the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2015, which will be held in Australia in January.