Top 10 Asian National Teams - AFC 2023 Rankings
Ranking the best Asian national football teams in this year’s 2023 Asian Football Confederation
AFC Asian Cup 2023
The Asian national teams, alongside with the African teams, are football teams with diverse playing styles and rich history that are usually considered as “easy opponents” before the match but when they have to play against them, they can surprise both the reigning champions or fan favorites. Some of the most successful teams from Asia are Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea and, obviously Japan, this last one usually considered the strongest team in the continent, and also the favorite one alongside South Korea.
Next year, Qatar will be the host of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup so we need to be ready for this edition, right? Today we are going to choose the 11 strongest Asian national teams and also the favorites to win this next tournament so, without further ado, let’s begin with our newest top!
The China national team, better known as the “Team Dragon”, despite representing the most populous country in the world, they haven’t found the amount of success they originally thought, in fact, their only World Cup appearance was in 2002 where they lost all their matches without scoring a single goal.
The curious part is that they were considered an Asian powerhouse in that period of time despite this very bad performance in their only World Cup. Despite this, there is hope and there is a lot of space to improve in the future because in China, football is still growing in popularity and the investment in this sport is constantly increasing in this country, so let’s see if in this 2023 Asian Cup they play better than before.
Top 10 Asian Football Teams
Uzbekistan is relatively a young football nation but let me tell you this, the national team has done impressive things in recent years. They have qualified to the AFC Asian Cup every year since 1996 and were quarterfinalists in the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.
Going a little bit back to the past, they won the gold medal in the 1994 Asian Games in Japan and also were the runners-up at the 1995 Afro-Asian Cup of Nations. Not bad for a team considered weak and not as popular as the others, right?
The Uzbekistan team is also known for their emphasis on youth development and many of their players are already playing in Europe so their future looks very bright to be honest. Surely, they will show something great in this edition.
If your national team is nicknamed “The Red Warriors” you know you are creating and developing a machine. The Oman national team has recently enjoyed a lot of success; they were able to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and they reached the knockout stage where they were eliminated by the Iran national team.
Now, led by the experienced Croatian coach Branko Ivankovic, the head coach who led Iran to the 2006 World Cup, they are currently more powerful than ever before so it is not going to be a surprise if they are able to reach the quarterfinals.
Just like Uzbekistan, Oman focuses on strong youth development and they also have a very passionate fan base, so their future looks also very bright and we surely will see their ascend on the international stage sooner than we can expect.
8. United Arab Emirates
UAE, or United Arab Emirates, has qualified for just one world cup and that was the 1990 World Cup in Italy and 2 years later, they placed fourth at the 1992 AFC Asian Cup, and later again, in 1996, they were runners-up at the 1996 AFC Asian Cup where they were the hosts.
Nicknamed “The Whites”, the UAE national team have won the Gulf Cup on three occasions and they are more than ready to show what they can do in this upcoming AFC Asian Cup.
The UAE national team has one of the strongest fan bases in the Asian region and their fan base is always helping the team to achieve success on the international stage. We hope we can see them again in another World Cup.
In case you didn't know, the Iraq national team is one of the most successful, strongest, and most popular teams in the Middle East, they have a strong and passionate fan base and a very rich history.
They were able to qualify to the 1986 World Cup, their only World Cup, but they have more success than that: They have 4 FIFA Arab Cup titles, 3 Arabian Gulf Cup titles, and one AFC Asian Cup title.
They are stronger than you imagined, right? They are also known for their strong tactical prowess and talented players, these two being the reasons why they have earned the respect from a lot of football fans around the world. Also, this football team is also seen as a symbol of both unity and hope for all the people in Iraq.
The Qatar national team, nicknamed “The Maroons”, has steadily risen in the FIFA rankings in the last two decades and has established itself as one of the most dangerous teams in Asian football, with the team being usually considered the Dark Horse of the tournament.
They already won the AFC Asian Cup in 2019 and they were the hosts of the 2022 World Cup, and guess what? They are hosting the upcoming 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Their attacking style of play has earned them many fans in the world, and despite being easily eliminated in their own World Cup, they showed that they are a force to be reckoned with thanks to their technically skilled players.
5. Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabia national team shocked the world in 2022 when they defeated the Argentina national team in the 2022 World Cup in the opening game of their group. Later on, they lost the next two matches but despite that, they showed what they are able to do.
They are considered one of the most successful national teams in Asia, they have won the AFC Asian Cup in three occasions; 1984, 1988, and 1996, they reached the final at the 1992 King Fahd Cup (later, the FIFA Confederations Cup), and have qualified for they FIFA World Cup on six occasions since 1994. While in World Cups they haven’t shown what they can do, in Asian football they are one of the most dangerous teams out there.
The Iran national team, nicknamed “The Cheetahs”, is one of the most dangerous and most dominant teams in Asian football. They have won the AFC Asian Cup on three occasions and they constantly perform really well in World Cup qualifying matches.
While other Asian teams are known for a more attacking style of play, the Iran national team are known for their strong defensive play and also for their tactical discipline.
This national team, just like the Iraq national team, is seen as a symbol of pride, hope and unity by their fans and despite facing both logistical and political challenges, they remain as a formidable force in Asian football and one of the most followed teams in the Asian tournaments.
Ok, I have to come clean; before writing this, I didn’t know that Australia played in the Asian tournaments, I originally thought that they were part of the Oceania tournaments so this was a surprise to me.
Everybody knows that the Australia national team is one of the strongest teams both in Oceania and Asia and is the only national team that has been champion of two confederations: the OFC Nations Cup on four occasions (1980, 1996, 2000, 2004) and the AFC Asian Cup at the 2015 edition.
Also, they have qualified to the World Cup on six occasions and were runners-up at the 1997 Confederations Cup. They are a team that always surprises us in one way or another.
2. South Korea
The South Korea national team is arguably the second-best football team in Asia; they have qualified for eleven World Cups and also have reached the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cups a total of four times. Their current success is thanks to its talented players, passionate fan base, disciplined training, and tactical prowess.
Right now, with Jurgen Klinsmann as head coach, and players like Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae, and Hwang Ui-jo, they are more than ready to conquer the 2023 AFC Asian Cup for the third time in their history. This team continues to inspire and surprise not only Asian fans, but also fans around the world.
The Japan national team is, without a shadow of a doubt, the strongest, the most popular, and the most dominant team in the Asian tournaments not only in recent times but for decades.
They have won the AFC Asian Cup a record four times (1992, 2000, 2004, 2011), finished second in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Also, they have qualified for the World Cup seven times while co-hosting with South Korea the 2002 edition. Thanks to players like Shunsuke Nakamure, Makoto Hasebe, Keisuke Honda, and Yasuhito Endo, and also for their extremely loyal and educated supporters, the Japan national team is one of the most beloved national teams in the world.
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