China and Kyrgyzstan will face each other in the first Group C match at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 on Sunday with both teams looking to get their campaign off to a good start.
Under the stewardship of the legendary Marcelo Lippi, China will look to better their return of reaching the Quarter finals in the 2015 edition of the Asian Cup by progressing to the semi finals and possibly even further.
Kyrgyzstan, on the other hand, make their Asian Cup debut in the tournament and will try to make a statement against one of the stronger teams in China.
Here, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the five key facts ahead of the kick off between the two sides.
1) First meeting between the two sides
Naturally, since this is the White Falcons’ first Asian Cup tournament not as part of USSR, it will also be the first time these two teams will play each other in the competition.
2) China continue Asian Cup tradition
Since 1976, China has qualified for every single Asian Cup tournament which means that it currently holds the record for current second longest run of participation with 14 on the trot.
In that time, however, it also holds an ignominious record in that time…
3) A barren spell
No team has played the number of games that China has (51) without actually winning the Asian Cup trophy. Although the team has been a constant fixture of the tournament, they haven’t quite been able to find the right recipe for success.
China has finished runners up in the tournament twice though, once in 1984 and more recently in 2004.
4) A flying start
China has accrued a reputation recently of beginning their Asian Cup campaign with a bang, as they’ve emerged victorious in the first group stage match in the previous three editions of the tournament.
The last time that the suffered defeat in their opening fixture was a 2-0 reverse against Uzbekistan in 1996 – another team who were making their Asian Cup bow.
Incidentally, China still ended up progressing to the quarter finals in the tournament.
5) The best of three
Kyrgyzstan is one among the three teams to debut in the Asian Cup 2019 tournament, which is unsurprising considering that the bracket has expanded to 24 teams from 16, for the first time.
The last team to progress past the group stages and make it to the knockout stages in their maiden tournament was Australia in 2007. They went from strength to strength after that, and ended up winning the competition in 2015.
(Facts via Opta)