Fri, Jun 21, 2013 - Page 18 News List

WORLD CUP: Asian teams’ competitiveness at World Cup doubted

AP, SEOUL

Ghotbi was a member of South Korea’s coaching staff at the 2002 World Cup when the team reached the semi-finals on home soil under Dutch coach Guus Hiddink.

“Hiddink did a great job in 2002 in taking national team to as many locations as possible and playing opponents with different organizational styles. You have to use FIFA dates intelligently,” he said.

While the big teams largely failed to inspire, there was some hope in the improving depth of competitiveness among Asia’s smaller nations.

In Group A, Qatar and Lebanon gave the big boys significant problems at times, while Uzbekistan only just missed out on direct qualification. In Group B, Jordan, Oman and Iraq all had their moments.

“The other Asian teams are catching up fast — and Australia has gone backwards,” Hill said. “Jordan, Iraq and Oman are all now very strong at home and increasingly they have lost their fear when traveling to Australia.”

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