The first day of the Asian Cup quarter finals was full of action with three teams from East Asia.
In the early match we saw a clash between one of the favorites to win, Japan, and the biggest surprise of the knockout stage, Vietnam. Even though everyone expected to see big differences between the teams, Vietnam wasn't weaker compared to their opponents.
We got a chance to see the VAR debut in the Asian Cup, and it was used twice. The first one was at the 28th minute, while the referee reviewed a Maya Yoshida goal and disallowed it. The second time was in the 57th minute, which eventually was the crucial decision, as the referee gave a penalty kick to Japan.
Ritsu Doan has done the thing that his team have done every single time – score the one goal that will bring them to the next stage. It's their fifth match at the tournament and the Blue Samurais didn't win a match by more than one goal margin.
It's the end of the Asian Cup for Vietnam and they can feel disappointed. While the first half was balanced and Vietnam missed a few shots, the Japanese goal made the Golden Dragons to look a bit confused. Maybe these kind of matches, like their narrow defeat against Iraq at the group stage, will be those that will inspire the team and will make them believe that they can do much more in the future.
If there is any team that wants to believe that their future is bright, you may think about China, that was also eliminated today by another favorites, Iran. They were defeated 3-0 and it doesn't seem that Iran had any challenge in this match.
At the end of the campaign, China will need to think how they can achieve all the targets that they are wishing to reach. China reached the Asian Cup top 8, but it's not clear whether they can do it, as their team was not good enough. Their match against Iran revealed how poor their defensive line is when they need to play against stronger teams.
After the elimination, it's also the final match in Marcello Lippi's long career. Lippi, that decided to retire at the end of the tournament, is leaving his legacy on Chinese football after seven years in the country and three years as the national team head coach.
The question from now on will be whether we will see any progress from China in the next years. China qualified for the second time in a row to the quarter finals, but can they make it one step further in the Asian Cup or maybe even to qualify to the World Cup? Only time will tell.