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Stats Wrap: Matchday One

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation’s five representatives at the FIFA World Cup got off to contrasting starts in Russia, with Islamic Republic of Iran and Japan claiming victories, while Australia, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia suffered defeats. 

Iran fans v Morocco

With all the teams having now played one match, highlights some of the key statistics among the Asian sides in the first of our World Cup Stats Wraps.

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Improved showing

Six points from the first round of fixtures is a very respectable start for Asia’s five representatives, with both Iran and Japan winning their opening matches against Morocco and Colombia respectively.

By comparison, the four Asian teams at the 2014 edition picked up just three points in total, with Iran, Korea Republic and Japan managing a point apiece as the continent’s best sides exited without a victory.

Star performer

Yuya Osako’s five efforts on goal (graphic below) in his match-winning performance against Colombia on Tuesday was more than any other player from the five teams, while his three on target was also out in front.

Indeed, only Lionel Messi’s six attempts on goal in Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland on Saturday was higher than Osako’s, although Barcelona’s wizard wasn’t able to claim three points for the two-time World Cup winners as his missed penalty proved costly.

An Asian first

Saudi Arabia became the first Asian team to take part in the FIFA World Cup’s opening match when they took to the pitch to face hosts Russia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium last Thursday night.

A 5-0 defeat may not have been the outcome the Saudis were looking for, but the Gulf nation still have two games to respond, starting with their Matchday Two encounter with Uruguay on Wednesday.

Reliable Ryan

Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan’s four saves in his side’s strong showing in a 2-1 defeat to France on Saturday was more than any other ‘keeper who turned out for the Asian teams.

Korea Republic’s Jo Hyeon-woo and Iran’s Alireza Bieranvand – who was the only custodian of the five to keep a clean sheet – each made three saves in their respective matches against Sweden and Morocco.

Contrasting approach, same outcome

Japan created two times as many chances as any other Asian team, with Akira Nishino’s side creating 10 – five more than Korea Republic and Australia – as they sought victory with a man advantage against Colombia.

Iran, meanwhile, created fewer chances than any team in the competition, with their two 18 below Germany’s 20. Carlos Queiroz’s team, though, claimed a 1-0 victory at the last, while Germany failed to find the back of the net and lost 1-0 to Mexico.

Ki performer

Sat just in front of the back four, Korea Republic captain Ki Sung-yueng made more interceptions than any player turning out for the Asian teams, with his five against Sweden one in front of fellow Taeguk Warriors midfielder Lee Jae-sung.

While the East Asians battled hard, though, they struggled to create chances and had no efforts on target as the Swedes ran out 1-0 winners to leave Shin Tae-yong’s side with a hard task to qualify ahead of games against Mexico and Germany.


Sardar Azmoun won more aerial duels than any other player from the Asian Football Confederation, with the Iran forward’s seven one above Japan’s Maya Yoshida and two ahead of Australia’s Mathew Leckie.

With Azmoun involved in a Matchday high 15 aerial duels, though, it was Yoshida who posted the better percentage as the Southampton man won six of his seven in a composed display at the heart of the Japan defence.

Magnificent Maya

Indeed, it was a good day’s work all round for Yoshida, whose 103 touches was out in front among his Asian counterparts, with Saudi Arabian pair Salman Al Faraj (98) and Mohammed Al Burayk (97) coming in second and third on the list.

And with the Samurai Blue having the advantage of playing against 10-man Colombia for almost the entirety of the game, Yoshida saw plenty of the ball, completing 85 passes across the 90 minutes in another unbeaten tally.

Photos: Getty Images

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