2024 Asian Cup: Tips & Preview

The 18th edition of the Asian Cup will see 24 nations taking part in Qatar in what the odds suggest is a wide-open tournament.

Hosts Qatar are the defending champions while Japan are Asia's top-ranked side and Australia and South Korea were each encouraged by joining the Japanese in the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup.

Saudi Arabia won admirers at those finals by beating eventual world champions Argentina while it wouldn't be an Asian Cup without the promise of big things from former winners like Iran and Iraq.

The tournament begins on January 12 with a Group A clash between Qatar and Lebanon, while the final will be at Lusail Stadium on February 10.

Tip 1 – South Korea to win the Asian Cup

Winners of the first two Asian Cups in 1956 and 1960, South Korea have known only heartache since.

Four times since then they have reached the final – but they have failed in all four, three times in extra-time.

This time round they look to have the tools to make amends with head coach Jurgen Klinsmann starting to make his mark.

There were doubts over the appointment of Klinsmann after Paulo Bento's reign and the German former World Cup winner hardly covered himself in glory with a six-game winless streak across the first seven months of his reign.

Since the autumn, however, they have looked far better and the quality of players at Klinsmann’s disposal means the Koreans look a major threat.

Tottenham forward Son Heung-min captains a side full of major class in the likes of Bayern Munich centre-back Kim Min-jae, young Paris Saint-Germain talent Lee Kang-in, Mainz midfielder Lee Jae-sung and Wolves attacker Hwang Hee-chan.

Drawn in a group alongside Malaysia, Jordan and Bahrain, they will have no difficulty winning it and are handily in the opposite half of the draw to bitter rivals Japan and Australia, presuming those two win their groups as expected.

Tip 2 – Japan to win the Asian Cup

Japan have been to five finals in the last eight runnings of the Asian Cup and they do look an undeniably class act ahead of this one.

If the group stages work out as envisaged, expect Japan to top their section and boss the top half of the draw.

The Blue Samurai were outstanding at the last World Cup, beating both Germany and Spain to make the last 16 before losing on penalties to Croatia.

Since then Hajime Moriyasu's men have enjoyed a stellar 2023, featuring wins over the likes of Peru, Turkey and Canada and, of course, an unforgettable 4-1 drubbing of Germany in Wolfsburg in a friendly in September.

Japan's side will feature players from the cream of Europe's clubs, captained by Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo alongside the likes of Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), Daichi Kamada (Lazio) and, if fit, Brighton winger Kauro Mitoma.

There is pace to burn throughout the Japanese side but also the big-league steel and guile which many of their opponents lack. It looks a well-balanced side and it is hard to see them not cruising through their half of the draw.

Tip 3 – Uzbekistan to reach the semi-finals

The Asian Cup is not averse to a shock or two and there are one or two lively outsiders, among them Uzbekistan, who could benefit from the draw.

Srecko Katanec's emerging side are priced to finish behind Australia in Group B which lines them up against the runner-up from Group F (quite possibly Oman) in the last 16 and the winner of Group A (presumably Qatar) in the quarter-finals – and there is nothing to fear from any of that.

Uzbekistan are on the rise and have enjoyed some impressive efforts over the last 12 months with wins over Bolivia and China and draws with Iran and Mexico.

Cagliari striker Eldor Shomurodov is prolific at international level, while Rubin Kazan's Rustan Ashurmatov and Lens' Abdukhodir Khusanov will make the Uzbek defence one of the sternest in the tournament.

Elsewhere, Graham Arnold's Australia have excelled against quality opposition over the last 12 months or so but the draw is shaping up for a Japan-Australia semi-final, where the Socceroos are set to come off second best.

Hosts Qatar cannot be overlooked, though they flopped as hosts of the World Cup just over a year ago and the jury is out on incoming coach Tintin Marquez.

There are no such doubts, on the other hand, over the man at the helm of Saudi Arabia with Italy's Euro 2020-winning coach Roberto Mancini having replaced Herve Renard. It would be a surprise if the Italian doesn't get a tune out of his new charges.

Discover the full list of games and odds on our dedicated Asian Cup betting odds page.

Take Time to Think | | 18+

We're sorry!

Unfortunately, BetMGM isn't available in your country.