The Asian Cup 2011, Part Three: The Final Verdict

There could have been 100 goals in the 2011 Asian Cup tournament, if North Korea and the United Arab Emirates had been a bit less shi…ocking. And as there were nearly three goals-per-game and the best and most entertaining team won, this tournament can be filed in the success column – whatever Alex Ferguson may think of “this Asia Cup thing.” Japan were undoubtedly the best and most entertaining team. They managed the most goals too, despite Uzbekistan’s ‘best’ efforts to give Australia the honour in a semi-final collapse so complete that bookies wouldn’t dare rig it.  The ‘Blue Samurai’s’ opening match against Jordan turned out to be their ‘Spain v Switzerland’ moment. Their goalkeeper, Eiji Kawashima, went from Robert Green to Lev Yashin during his suspension for GBH on Syria’s Sanharib Malki in the group stages. And Yasuhito Endo produced the best performance in an international tournament from somebody looking like a cold, wet schoolboy in bedraggled kit wishing he was doing maths homework instead. Japan were involved in most of the best matches as well, with the Qatar triumph just edging the Syria and South Korean games. But on the flipside, they were lucky not to lose to Jordan – who knows what effect that would have had on their tournament? And they had the most over-rated player in Keisuke Honda who at times wasn’t even good...

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