With barely a few days left for the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup to get underway, the continent’s 24 best teams are set to descend in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The 17th edition of the continental competition sees the participating teams drawn into six groups of four teams each.
Here, Goal takes a look at Group F comprising of heavyweights Japan, Uzbekistan, Oman and Turkmenistan.
Four-times winners Japan are making their ninth appearance in the competition and are the favourites to progress from Group F.
The Samurai Blue will be eager to make up for their 2015 disappointment where they crashed out of the quarter-finals after losing out on penalties to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Fresh off a memorable campaign in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where they made it the round of 16, Hajime Moriyasu and his men will be one of the favourites to lift the title in UAE. Since their World Cup campaign, Japan have been in scorching form in international friendlies with victories over Costa Rica, Uruguay, Panama and Kyrgyzstan along with a draw with Venezuela.
Key players – Maya Yoshida, Yuya Osako
Making their seventh straight appearance in the competition are Uzbekistan who have slowly been developing into a force to be reckoned with on the continental level.
Coached by former Inter Milan and Egypt manager Hector Cuper, the Uzbeks will be hoping to at least match or better their fourth-place finish in the 2011 edition.
Having missed out on World Cup qualification after a dismal showing in the final qualifying round, the White Wolves will be hoping for some form of redemption in the Asian Cup.
With their youth sides doing extremely well at the AFC U19 Championship in recent years, Uzbekistan have a senior squad with plenty of promise.
Of late, they have recorded friendly wins over DPR Korea and Qatar but have tasted defeats against the likes of Uruguay, South Korea and Iran.
Key players – Odil Akhmedov, Odil Hamrobekov
Making only their fourth appearance in the competition, Oman could be one of the dark horses to progress from Group F.
Having never progressed beyond the group-stages in the competition, Oman will be looking to clear that first hurdle this time around, especially after their victory in the 2017 Gulf Cup where they beat the UAE in the final.
Captain and former Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi has been ruled out of the tournament with an injury.
Oman were in excellent form earlier with victories over Bahrain and Tajikistan but a draw against India and a 0-5 thrashing at the hands of Australia has derailed some of that momentum.
Key players - Mohammed Al Hosni
The second-lowest ranked team (127) taking part in the 2019 edition, Turkmenistan are making only their second appearance in the competition.
Their only previous appearance came in the 2004 edition held in China where they crashed out of the group-stages.
Coached by Yazguly Hojageldyyew, Turkmenistan have a tough ask on their hands if they are to prevent another group-stage exit.
The bulk of the squad is comprised of players plying their trade in Turkmenistan clubs Altyn Asyr and Ahal. Since securing their qualification for the Asian Cup, the side has played very few international friendlies with a 2-0 win over Afghanistan their most recent fixture.
Key players - Wahyt Orazsähedow