Japan are the current Unofficial Football World Champions, and they’re taking the UFWC title into uncharted territory – namely Qatar, for the 2011 Asian Cup, which will be played throughout January.
Few Asian nations have ever held the UFWC title – or even played in a UFWC title match – so this is exciting stuff. Of the 16 teams involved in the 2011 Asian Cup, only Japan, South Korea and Australia have been UFWC champions – and they only have one title match victory each. So we’re definitely going to see some new UFWC participants – starting with Jordan, who play Japan on 9 January. And we may well see some brand new names on the CW Alcock trophy.
The full list of Asian Cup participants is Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Iran, defending champions Iraq, Japan, Jordan, North Korea, South Korea, Kuwait, hosts Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. Fascinating stuff, because most of those names are unfamiliar in the UFWC, having never played a single UFWC title match.
Japan line up in group B with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. None of those three opponents has ever played in the UFWC before. The fixtures throw up a number of fascinating possibilities, We know that the group opener will see Japan take on Jordan, but, depending on results, the folowing matches could all potentially be UFWC title matches:
9 January 2011 – Japan vs Jordan
13 January 2011 – Jordan vs Saudi Arabia
13 January 2011 – Syria vs Japan
17 January 2011 – Saudi Arabia vs Japan
17 January 2011 – Jordan vs Syria
Assuming the UFWC title holders finish first or second in group B, they will progress to the quarter finals, to be played on 21 and 22 January. The semis will be played on 25 Jan, the third place match on 28 Jan, and the Asian Cup final on 29 Jan.
Exciting stuff. We’ll be building up to the Asian Cup over the next few weeks, taking a closer look at Jordan and some of the other teams that may come out of the tournament as UFWC champions.
In the meantime, Japan fans can celebrate their status as Unofficial Football World Champions with a brand new Hughie the mascot Japan T-shirt that’s just been added to the T-shirt store.
We’ll also keep you up to date with any feedback from the Japan Football Association, who are no doubt delighted with their achievement. We’re keen to hear from Japanese fans, too, so post your comments here, or contact us via email or Twitter.