As the AFC Asian Cup 2019 is now officially underway, teams are playing their first matches and this time, three-time winners Saudi Arabia begin their campaign by facing Korea DPR.
Considered one of the contenders in the competition, Saudi Arabia are hoping to begin with a win to help them reach the knockout stages.
On the other hand, Korea DPR have not had much luck in the competition but are going to try to spring in a surprise by getting a result against one of competition’s top teams.
Ahead of this battle, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at five facts that could play a part in this coming clash.
1) SAUDI ARABIA’S AFC ASIAN CUP STREAK
Saudi Arabia are making their 10th consecutive AFC Asian Cup appearance – a run that began in 1984.
They’ve proven to be impressive in the competition with three titles in their past nine AFC Asian Cup runs. Furthermore, they’ve finished as runners-up in three other occasions.
Saudi notably won the title in their maiden tournament and also defended it four years later.
2) SAUDI EARLY DOMINANCE
Coinciding with the first point, Saudi Arabia reached the finals in six of their first seven AFC Asian Cup tournaments – winning in 1984, 1988 and again in 1996.
In 1992, they lost to 1-0 to Japan in the final as the Japanese played as hosts. In 2000, they would again face the Japanese in the final and suffer the same fate with another 1-0 loss when they played at Lebanon.
After failing to make the knockout stages in 2004, Saudi Arabia returned to the finals in 2007 but lost to Iraq in the final.
3) POOR FORM FOR THE GREEN FALCONS
A contrasting point from the first two, recent AFC Asian Cup performances have not been up to standard for Saudi Arabia as they’ve only won one in their last seven tournament matches.
In their first 37 matches in the competition, they lost the same number of times as they did in their last seven in the AFC Asian Cup.
Their only win in the unfortunate streak was a 4-1 win over Korea DPR in 2015.
4) STRUGGLING KOREA DPR
Speaking of struggles, Korea DPR are in their fifth AFC Asian Cup but have found wins difficult to come by.
They’ve only won three matches in 15 total in their AFC Asian Cup history, and have lose nine of their last eleven in the campaign.
The last time they won a match was in 1980 – a 2-1 victory against Syria. It is also the only time they’ve reached the knockout stages as they finished fourth in that edition.
5) AGE IS INDEED A NUMBER
Korea DPR coach Kim Yong-jun is 35 years old and is younger than Jordan goalkeepers Amer Shafi (36), Moataz Yaseen (36) and China PR’s Zheng Zhi (38) who are the oldest players in the competition.
He previously coached Korea DPR’s youth teams before being handed to lead the senior team in 2018.
The Korea DPR gaffer is also the youngest coach in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 edition – the only one currently in his 30s.