AFC Asian Cup 2019: Overseas head coaches in demand for majority of finalists

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Very few of the 24 finalists for Asia's biggest prize have employed a native of the country as their head coach...

As the clock ticks down to the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup 2019, one thing is for certain.

Foreign coaches are very much the flavour among the football teams of the continent with as many as many as 20 of the 24 qualified teams for the Asian Cup having a foreigner at the helm.

Japan, Australia, DPR Korea and Turkmenistan are the only exceptions to buck the trend of looking overseas for head coaches among the finalists. High profile coaches from Europe are very much in demand among the Asian heavyweights with the likes of Carlos Queiroz (Iran), Marcelo Lippi (China), Sven Goran Eriksson (Philippines), Paulo Bento (South Korea) and Alberto Zaccheroni (United Arab Emirates) all vying for the continent’s top prize.

Four-times winners Japan have at their helm Hajime Moriyasi, a 50-year-old former international. Moriyasi was part of the Japanese team that won their maiden continental crown in the 1992 Asian Cup held on home soil.

The former Japan U23 coach has been in charge of the national team since July this year, succeeding his compatriot Akira Nishino in the role post the side’s round of 16 exit in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Under Moriyasu, Japan have won four of their five international fixtures at a win-rate of 80 per cent.

Defending champions Australia, meanwhile, have recalled Graham Arnold for a second stint as head coach. The former Australia skipper has 50 caps for his country and had previously managed the national team for a one-year period in 2006-07. Arnold took over the reins for the Socceroos post the 2018 World Cup and has overseen two big wins in his three games so far. The former defender has managed A-League outfits Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners in the past along with a stint in the J-League as Vegalta Sendai.

DPR Korea have a former international in the form of Kim Yong-Jun as their head coach while Turkmenistan native and former footballer Yazguly Hojageldiyew is leading the country’s national team in what is his second stint.

The rest of Asia, including India who have Englishman Stephen Constantine at the helm, have looked outward for their head coach selections. Hence, it will be interesting to note how the four native coaches perform with their respective teams come January 2019.


Team Head Coach Nationality
UAE Alberto Zaccheroni Italy
India Stephen Constantine England
Thailand Milovan Rajevac Serbia
Bahrain Miroslav Soukup Czech Republic


Team Head Coach Nationality
Australia Graham Arnold Australia
Syria Bernd Stange Germany
Palestine Noureddine Ould Ali Algeria
Jordan Vital Borkelmans Belgium


Team Head Coach Nationality
South Korea Paulo Bento Portugal
China Marcelo Lippi Italy
Kyrgyz Republic Aleksander Krestinin Russia
Phiippines Sven Goran Eriksson Sweden


Team Head Coach Nationality
Iran Carlos Queroz Portugal
Iraq Srecko Katanec Slovenia
Vietnam Park Hang-Seo South Korea
Yemen Jan Kocian Slovakia


Team Head Coach Nationality
Saudi Arabia Juan Antonio Pizzi Spain
Qatar Felix Sanchez Bas Spain
Lebanon Miodrag Radulovic Montenegro
North Korea Kim Yong-Jun DPR Korea


Team Head Coach Nationality
Japan Hajime Moriyasi Japan
Uzbekistan Hector Cuper Argentina
Oman Pim Verbeek Netherlands
Turmenistan Yaguly Yazguly Hojageldiyew Turkmenistan