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04 October 2023

Wins, losses but no draws as Asian Cup hits record

Sevilla's forward Jose Antonio Reyes (C) vies with Malaga's forward Juanmi (L) and midfielder Jose Luis Garcia Recio during the Spanish league football match Sevilla FC vs Malaga CF at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Sevilla on January 18, 2015. (AFP)


It could be the bumbling defending, or perhaps the vanishing spray has a mysterious side-effect, but the Asian Cup has yet to produce a draw in 20 matches - now officially a record at major football tournaments.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday said the tournament has surpassed the previous mark of 18 matches without a stalemate set at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay.

Those who grumble about how soccer games often end without a winner, would approve, although it is debatable how much the phenomenon owes to fine attacking football and how much to defensive errors.

The new record includes European championships and the African Cup of Nations, according to the AFC's website, and remains largely unexplained.

After victories by China and Uzbekistan on Sunday, just four group matches remain before the business end begins with the quarter-finals on Thursday and Friday.

The Socceroos needed only a point to finish top of Group A at the weekend, with short odds available for a draw. But South Korea failed to read the script, and they caught the hosts with a sucker punch to win 1-0.

Other records have tumbled at the 16th Asian Cup, notably when Ali Mabkhout scored after just 14 seconds as the United Arab Emirates beat Bahrain 2-1 in midweek.

Palestine also scored their first ever Asian Cup goal, while Japan midfielder Yasuhito Endo earned his 150th cap for the defending champions in Friday's 1-0 win over Iraq, drawing level with German World Cup-winner Lothar Matthaus.

The total attendance has soared past the 300,000-mark and FIFA president Sepp Blatter may be watching closely from Zurich, after he once suggested banning draws in football.