Qatar hosted the 2011 Asian Cup and despite their initial defeat to Uzbekistan progressed from their group with wins over China and Kuwait losing narrowly to eventual winners Japan in the next round. The Uzbeks were the most improved team in the rankings during the tournament winning group A and reaching the semi-final where they fell apart and were trounced 6-0 by Australia finishing forth after bouncing back but losing 3-2 to South Korea. China’s pivotal match resulting in their failure to get out of Group A was their 2-0 defeat to their hosts while Kuwait ended up making the numbers.
Iran negotiated group D with relative ease and were followed into the next round by reigning champions Iraq leaving behind them the barren North Korea and UAE who failed to score a goal between them. A South Korean goal in extra time ended Iran’s hopes in the quarter-finals while Iraq lost their crown in similar fashion to Australia sending the top teams from group C to the semi finals.
Japan started their campaign needing a goal in stoppage time to salvage a point against Jordan who were eventually knocked out 2-1 by Uzbekistan in the next round after victories over Syria and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were a huge disappointment losing all 3 matches finishing the tournament with an embarrassing 5-0 hammering at the hands of Japan. The Japanese went on to knock their host out 3-2, beat South Korea on penalties and defeat Australia with a goal in extra time to win the Asian Cup for a record forth time.Full reports from the 2011 Asian Cup can be read at score.