As you may be aware, the UFWC will be making history in less than two weeks, as it makes its first appearance at the AFC Asian Cup. As we have already touched upon, future World Cup hosts Qatar will set the stage for the most important trophy in Asian football, with Jordan having the honour of being the first challengers in this new domain for the UFWC. However that barely scrathes the surface of what may happen.
There have only been two previous Asian UFWC champions: South Korea, and current holders Japan, who will take the CW Alcock Cup into uncharted territory. While few Asian nations have even had the chance of winning the trophy, we will now have at least 3 all-Asian title matches during the competition’s 3-week campaign.
Of the 16 competitors in the upcoming Asian Cup, only 7 have appeared in the UFWC before, those teams being Australia, Iran, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Saudi and the United Arab Emirates. The remaining teams, who all have a chance of appearing in the UFWC for the first time, are Bahrain, China, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Syria and Uzbekistan. And of those 9 teams, two of them will be joining Japan in the opening round.
The UFWC will begin it’s journey in Group B, where UFWC champions Japan are joined by Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. While the tournanent kicks-off on January 7th, the first UFWC match of the Asian Cup will be on January 9th, where Japan will face UFWC débutantes Jordan.
If Japan defend the title, their next defence will be on January 13th, as Syria will make their first appearance on the big ‘unofficial’ stage. If Jordan defeat Japan in their game, then their first title defence will be against Saudi Arabia, in what would be their 5th attempt at winning the UFWC.
This is where it gets complicated. If Japan defend the title against Syria, they will face Saudi Arabia with the title on the line on the final day. Similarly, that will also be a title match if Saudi Arabia defeat Jordan if that match was for the title. If Japan lose the title to Syria, then Jordan will have another go at winning the title. This match will also be for the title if Jordan defeat Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately, understanding that is as complicated as explaining the offside rule, so we’ll just stick with the first match for now and look at the rest as they come.
And of course, there is no guarantee that the UFWC title will make it beyond the group stage. It is entirely possible, for example, for Saudi Arabia to lose their first two group matches, beat Japan in the UFWC title match, and leave the contest with the CW Alcock Cup.
Of course, if the UFWC champions at the end of the group stage do advance to the quarter-finals, then by the very nature of knockout football, we will have the first-ever unification of the UFWC and AFC Asian Cups (something which may take place in the semi-finals also if Iraq, the 2007 Asian Cup winners, defeat the UFWC champions at that stage).
So if the UFWC title does go all the way, who are most likely to be unifying thee titles at the end of the tournament? That, it turns out, would be Japan, who are the 4/1 favourites to lift the Asian Cup. South Korea, Australia and Saudi Arabia are credited as the most likely behind the Japanese; the odds for these teams winning ranging from 6/1 to 7/1. But odds don’t really mean anything: who would have guessed that after the Netherlands, Spain and Argentina, it would be Japan taking the UFWC title into 2011?
So keep in touch with us here on the UFWC website, as we will keep you up-to-date with everything that happens as the action unfolds from Qatar.