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Asian Cup: Previous winners

The Asian Cup is the primary men's national team competition in Asia and this year's upcoming tournament will see the continent's 24 best teams do battle for the trophy.

First held in Hong Kong in 1956, the Asian Cup has been staged primarily every four years since, and this year's competition, which is being billed as the 2023 tournament, will take place from Friday 12th January until Saturday 10th February 2024.

Just over a year after they staged the 2022 World Cup, Qatar will be hosting once again and they will contest the opening game against Lebanon.

Qatar are also the reigning champions after lifting the trophy for the first time in 2019 after beating Japan in the final.

Despite that defeat, Japan are the most successful side in Asian Cup history, as they have been crowned champions four times in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are next on that list with three wins each, although both nations will be hoping to end relative droughts this year, as the former have not been crowned Asia's best team since 1996, while it is now 48 years since the latter last lifted the trophy.

South Korea are the only other nation to have won the Asian Cup more than once, but after triumphing in the first two editions of the tournament in 1956 and 1960, they have not gone all the way since, despite reaching a further four finals, most recently in 2015.

Israel (1964), Kuwait (1980), Iraq (2007) and Australia (2015) are the only other nations to have been crowned champions of Asia.

This year's tournament has an open feel to it with Japan (9/4), South Korea (9/2) and Australia (13/2) all expected to go far, while Iran (7/1), Saudi Arabia (7/1) and hosts Qatar (10/1) could also emerge as contenders.

It remains to be seen which nation will add their name to the list of previous Asian Cup winners.

The 1950s & 60s

The first four editions of the Asian Cup were all contested over a round-robin format, with the group winner being crowned the eventual champion.

There were just four participants at the opening three tournaments and South Korea took the first title in 1956, finishing ahead of Israel, hosts Hong Kong and South Vietnam.

South Korea retained their title four years later on home soil, again pipping Israel to the crown, but the Skyblue and Whites did get their hands on the trophy in 1964 when they also took on hosting duties.

It was the hosts that won in 1968 as well, as Iran took the title in what was a slightly expanded five-team competition.

1956South KoreaIsrael
1960South KoreaIsrael

The 1970s

Iran defended their title in 1972 when the competition was expanded to six teams that were split into two groups of three, with the top two from each group advancing to the semi-finals.

The two winning semi-finalists then met in the first Asian Cup final, which Iran won after beating South Korea 2-1 after extra time.

The defending champions then made it three titles on the bounce in 1976, beating Kuwait 1-0 in the final, but that remains their most recent Asian Cup success.

1972IranSouth Korea

The 1980s

After missing out on the title four years earlier, Kuwait did get their hands on the trophy in 1980 by beating South Korea 3-0 in the showpiece match - that remains the biggest margin of victory for a team in an Asian Cup final.

Ten teams took part in each of the three Asian Cups held in the 1980s and in 1984 Saudi Arabia secured their first title with victory over China, while they defended their crown four years later, although they needed a penalty shootout to see off South Korea as the match finished goalless after 120 minutes of action.

1980KuwaitSouth Korea
1984Saudi ArabiaChina
1988Saudi ArabiaSouth Korea

The 1990s

The competition was trimmed down to eight teams for the 1992 tournament, which saw Japan claim their first title with victory over Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis returned for their fourth final in a row in 1996, when the competition was expanded to 12 teams for the first time, and they again needed a penalty shootout to claim the title, this time edging out the United Arab Emirates.

1992JapanSaudi Arabia
1996Saudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates

The 2000s

A new decade and millennium did not stop the Saudis again reaching the Asian Cup final in 2000, but once more they found Japan too hot to handle, as the Samurai Blue clinched title number two.

The 2004 tournament brought about another expansion, with 16 nations competing, but the growing number of teams did not stop Japan defending their crown, as they beat China 3-1 in the final.

There was only a three-year gap until the next tournament, which was won by Iraq in 2007. This tournament was also significant as it was the first football competition in the world to be hosted by more than two countries, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam sharing the responsibilities.

2000Japan Saudi Arabia
2007IraqSaudi Arabia

The 2010s

Japan became the first country to land four Asian Cup titles when they beat Australia 1-0 in the 2011 final after extra time, but the Aussies bounced back from that heartache four years later, edging out South Korea 2-1, again after an additional 30 minutes.

Extra time was not needed for the most recent final, as Qatar became Asian champions for the first time, beating Japan 3-1 in the final in Abu Dhabi.

2015AustraliaSouth Korea

Any odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation.


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