They have won 5 out of the last 7 tournaments, they are on the top of Asian football and you can even find some rising teams. This is the Eastern Asia team-by-team preview for the Asian Cup.
The U-17 World Cup in Jordan brought some great changes to women football. Culturally and politically.
The familiar Weekend Guide will be a bit Asian this time. From West to East, we will visit the classic match of Saudi Arabia, the big money of the Chinese Super Cup, and finally a match between the Koreas.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like this miss)
What? Al-Hilal – Al-Ittihad (Saudi Professional League)
When? Saturday, 1845
Where? King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh
Why? When you talk about a real Arab Classico, you just can't miss this match. The two all-time leading Saudi clubs, each representing a different big city, will meet in one of the decisive matches of the season. Al-Hilal from Riyadh is in 1st place with 40 points, while Al-Ittihad from Jeddah is 3rd, 4 points behind.
Key Players: Al-Hilal midfielder, home-grown Salman Al-Faraj, is responsible to many of the team’s recent success, and play for the first team since 2008. In Al-Ittihad everyone will focus on Gelmin Rivas, the league top scorer from Venezuela with 17 goals in 17 matches.
Foreign Staff: Since their first season in the Saudi top tier in 1977, Al-Ittihad appointed only one Saudi manager – Khalid Al-Koroni, which led the team for 6 months in 2014.
Professional (like this touch)
What? Guangzhou Evergrande – Jiangsu Sunning (Chinese Super Cup)
When? Saturday, 1235
Where? Olympic Sports Center, Chongqing
Why? After a crazy transfer window, the Chinese football is getting ready for the season with the Super Cup. Champions Guangzhou Evergrande will wish to have another great season, after they won the league and the AFC Champions League. The FA Cup holders, Jiangsu Sunning, formerly named Jiangsu Sainty, will show off their new cannons as they dream about first ever championship title.
Key Players: Let's forget about the expensive foreigners and check some Chinese stars. Gao Lin of Guangzhou Evergrande is one of the dominant local players with 13 goals last season. Meanwhile, watch Jiangsu Sunning midfielder Wu Xi, which becomes an integral part of the national team.
A Legend from the Past: The big money didn't skip the lower levels. In the Chinese third tier, Shenzhen Renren have one of the all-time legends of the Cypriot football as a manager, Siniša Gogić.
World Class (like this girl)
What? North Korea – South Korea (AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament)
When? Monday, 1135
Where? Nagai Stadium, Osaka, Japan
Why? Another Olympic tournament spots are on the line, just two teams will qualify from the Asian qualifiers in Japan. In the opening day we will see the Derby of the Koreas, both will try to reach the airplanes to Brazil on time.
Key Players: Keep your eyes on Ra Un-Sim, the captain of North Korea that led her team to win the East Asian Cup in 2015. Ji So-yun of South Korea is one the talented players in Asia, plays for Chelsea and was part of their first ever championship last season.
Don’t Dope: It's North Korea’s first chance to participate in an international tournament, since the 2012 Olympics. They were excluded from the 2015 World Cup qualifiers after their players failed a doping test during 2011 World Cup.