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AFC ASIAN CUP HISTORY

From its humble beginnings in 1956, the AFC Asian Cup has grown into the continent’s biggest football event, one that stands proudly alongside any top level competition around the globe in terms of excitement, entertainment and organisation.
Within the span of five decades, the AFC Asian Cup has encompassed the huge continent bringing together Asia’s top national teams every four years in a fantastic feast of top-notch football.

Two years after AFC came into being in 1954, the first ever AFC Asian Cup was staged in Hong Kong with seven of the 12 founding members vying for the title to become Asia’s best football team.
If the first edition featured only seven teams, the 2015 edition promises to be a global phenomenon with Asia's 16 top nations primed to participate in Australia in January 2015, representing more than half of the world’s population in the qualifying stages before the field is whittled down to the final 16.
The region’s powerhouses Japan, Australia and Korea Republic, who finished as the top three teams in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011™ and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup champions DPR Korea have earned automatic qualification for the event in Australia. 
These teams were joined by Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Uzbekistan, UAE, Bahrain, Saudia Arabia, Jordan, China PR, Iraq, Qatar through the qualification phase with the final team to qualify from the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.
The dominance factor has swung between the East and West so far. From the superiority of Korea Republic in the early years of the competition, the tournament became the preserve of the mighty Iranians who won three consecutive tournaments from 1968 to 1976.
West Asian countries ruled in the eighties with Kuwait becoming the first country from the Arab region to win the championship in 1980, followed by Saudi Arabia’s impressive and consecutive wins in 1984 and 1988.
Defending champions Japan hold the record for the most victories in the tournament’s history with title triumphs in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011.
The Iraqis are the only winners in the new millennium (other than Japan) when they famously defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the summit clash in 2007 in Indonesia. The fairy-tale win left the then war-torn nation elated in a clear sign of football’s immense power to bring people together as their thrilling triumph at the Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta hogged the limelight the world over.

The 2007 edition of the AFC Asian Cup also saw Australia come face-to-face for the first time with the footballing powers of Asia before the Socceroos signed off with a creditable quarter-final finish.
Having come to grips with Asian football, the Australians went all the way to the final in their next outing four years later only to suffer heartbreak in the pulsating Doha final when they lost to Japan 1-0 in extra-time.
YearHostsChampions
1956Hong KongKorea Republic
1960Korea RepublicKorea Republic
1964IsraelIsrael
1968IranIran
1972ThailandIran
1976IranIran
1980KuwaitKuwait
1984SingaporeSaudi Arabia
1988QatarSaudi Arabia
1992JapanJapan
1996UAESaudi Arabia
2000LebanonJapan
2004ChinaJapan
2007Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, VietnamIraq
2011QatarJapan



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