Asian sides are no longer pushovers

Kim Young-gwon wheeling away after putting South Korea ahead in added time against Germany on Wednesday in Kazan. Son Heung-min's goal wrapped up the Taeguk Warriors' memorable 2-0 win, sending the world champions and top-ranked team to their earlies
Kim Young-gwon wheeling away after putting South Korea ahead in added time against Germany on Wednesday in Kazan. Son Heung-min's goal wrapped up the Taeguk Warriors' memorable 2-0 win, sending the world champions and top-ranked team to their earliest World Cup exit since 1938.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Fearlessness, coaches' tactics, players plying trade overseas account for their rise in Russia

With just 13 wins in 96 games, it is not wrong to say that Asian teams have been making up the numbers at the World Cup.

That all changed at Russia 2018 after all four Asian (geographical) representatives - Japan, Iran, South Korea and Saudi Arabia - won one game each, the first time this has happened since more than one Asian country qualified at the 1986 tournament.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Asian sides are no longer pushovers'. Print Edition | Subscribe