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Saudi thumping offers little hope for Asian upturn in Russia

AFP  |  Saint Petersburg 

Asia's quartet of Cup representatives failed to deliver a single victory four years ago and hopes of a turnaround in are low, with continental powerhouses and struggling for form.

Five nations qualified from the Asian confederation for the 2018 Cup but Saudi Arabia's 5-0 thumping at the hands of the hosts in the tournament opener followed the pattern of miserable performances and results for Asian sides in

In the 16 years since and hosted the tournament, with the latter reaching the semi-finals, they have each only made it beyond the group stages once, in 2010.

Frenchman took to the last 16 on home soil in 2002 but believes they have "no chance" of making the knockout phase this time despite avoiding the tournament favourites in their group.

Japan sacked in April but the decision to hire has failed to inspire an immediate turnaround in fortunes, with warm-up friendly defeats against and

"Even if they play with (Jose) Mourinho or Arsene Wenger, it would be so difficult for Japan to get to the last 16," Troussier told AFP.

Halilhodzic's unwillingness to use some of Japan's star names such as and resulted in his dismissal.

However, even with their return, Japan lack the individual talent available to their opponents in Group H. boast the talent of James Rodriguez, can field and Liverpool's Sadio Mane is the star man for

- Spurs star Son -

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do have one outstanding talent in Tottenham's Son scored 18 goals this season, including four in seven games, but has struggled to recreate that form when tasked with being the main man for his country.

Defeats to Bosnia and either side of a drab 0-0 draw with in warm-up games have done little to inspire confidence that South Korea can rival or for second place behind Group F favourites

The Saudis' poor showing in against an unfancied also does not bode well for an Australian side that finished below them in qualifying and face the might of on Saturday.

had to go through a mammoth 22-game qualifying campaign, including two playoffs, to make it to

However, they too have undergone a recent change in with Bert van Marwijk, who took the to the final in 2010, inspiring an upturn in fortunes with recent wins against the and

Despite a myriad of problems including cancelled warm-up friendlies and Nike's decision to stop supplying boots due to US sanctions, may provide the Asian confederation's best chance of registering a win.

Carlos Queiroz's men stormed through qualifying undefeated in 18 games, conceding just five goals in the process.

Queiroz's defensive set-up frustrated and four years ago and their opening game against on Friday offers an early chance to make an impression before tougher tasks against and

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 15 2018. 10:15 IST
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