AFC Asian Cup: Round 1 Scores & Highlights

The AFC Asian Cup got underway last Friday, 12 Jan with a win by hosts Qatar over Lebanon 3-0.  Since then there have been 11 more matches played and 24 left to go in the Group Stage. Each group has started to take shape, as the top teams have begun to separate themselves from the pack.

Japan opened up their AFC Asian Cup campaign with a 4-2 win over Vietnam on Jan 14. From the opening whistle the Japanese team was on the attack, almost scoring in the first minute of the match. It wasn’t long before they were 1-0 up, after Takumi Minamino struck a rebounded ball into the back of the net 11 minutes in.

Vietnam was able to counter soon after converting two set plays into goals to take the lead 2-1. Japan was quick to hit back however, scoring two goals just before the half, one by Minamino and another by Keito Nakamura. 

The second half was all Japan as one of the tournament’s favourites were able to add a quick goal and shut out their opponents. Japan’s next game will be against Iraq who won 3-1 in their match against Indonesia. 

Another one of the frontrunners of the competition, South Korea, were able to win their opener 3-1 against Bahrain without much trouble. Hwang In-beom broke the 0-0 deadlock for South Korea in the 38th minute, but Bahrain fought back to equalize in the 51st minute through Abdullah Al Hashash. 

Paris St Germain’s Lee Kang-in took South Korea home with two top strikes in the 56th and 68th minutes. Tottenham Hotspur captain Son Heung-min had a late opportunity to score in the match but had his shot go wide. 

South Korea will face what should be a tougher test in their second match up against Jordan. Jordan looked strong in their first match of the tournament against Malaysia which they won 4-0.

In arguably the closest game thus far in the tournament, Saudi Arabia came from behind to beat Oman 2-1. The match took place at a packed Khalifa International Stadium and ended with an Ali Al-Bulayhi game winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time after VAR intervention.

Oman opened up their tournament scoring in the 14th minute when Saudi defender Hassan Al-Tambakti tackled Muhsen Al-Ghassani just as he entered the box. A penalty was awarded and Salaah Al-Yahyaei stepped up to score right down the middle.

It wasn’t until the 78th minute that Saudi Arabia could equalize through Abdulrahman Ghareeb. Ghreeb dribbled past four Oman defenders and calmly struck one past the line to tie the game at 1 all. 

The victory levels Saudi Arabia with Thailand on three points in Group F. Thailand beat Kyrgyzstan 2-0 earlier in the day with two goals from Supachai Chaided.

The Saudi Arabia national team, Nationalteam players are posing for a team photo
IMAGO / NurPhoto

Group Standings

Each team has played one out of three matches for the Group Stage so far in the competition. Here are the tables as they stand at the moment at the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

Group A


Group B


Group C

United Arab Emirates1003
Hong Kong0100

Group D


Group E

South Korea1003

Group F

Saudi Arabia1003