Association football, also known as soccer or simply football, is popular around the globe and Asia is certainly no exception. One of the highlights of Asian football is the AFC Asian Cup, an international football tournament arranged by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). A lot people worldwide follow the competitions, and plenty of bookmakers take wagers on the matches. If local bookmakers in your part of the world aren't particularly interested in Asian football, keep in mind that there is a rich assortment of international bookmakers online that offer excellent gambling opportunities for Asian football.
Asian Cup started in 1956 and is actually the second oldest continental football championship in the world; only Copa América is older (1916). The team that wins the Asian Cup will not only be crowned champion of Asia – it will automatically qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup as well.
Asian Cup is held every fourth year, but the tournament of 2004 was followed by a new tournament in 2007 instead of 2008 in order to stop the Asian Cup from falling on the exact same year as the Summer Olympic Games and the European Football Championship (2004, 2008, 2012 etc).
The number of teams participating in Asian Cup is 16. As of July 2011, the most successful team in the history of Asian Cup is Japan with four titles. During the early years, Iran and Korea was highly successful but nowadays the cup is dominated by Japan and Saudi Arabia. Other examples of teams that tend to go far in the cup are Iraq, Kuwait and Israel (but is Israel is no longer a member of the AFC).
Asian Cup records
Iran holds the Asian Cup record for most games played (58, followed by South Korea at 56), most games won (34, followed by South Korea at 27), most goals scored (112, followed by South Korea at 92) and best goal difference (+71, followed by Japan at +35).
Japan, who has won Asian Cup four times, holds the record for most Asian Cup titles.
Iran and South Korea share the record for most Asian Cup final participation. They have both reached the final 12 times.
South Korea has made the largest number of semi final appearances. They have reached the semi finals nine times.
Asian Football Confederation
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was formed in 1954 and is currently comprised of 46 member countries. The confederation was formed in Manila in the Philippines, but the headquarter is located in Bukit Jalil, a suburb located roughly 20 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
Even though Kazahstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Israel are located in Asia, they are members of The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Turkey and Russia, which are located in both Europe and Asia, are also members of UEFA. In 2006 Australia, Guam and Northern Mariana Island, the countries located in Oceania, joined AFC instead of Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).
Asian Ladies Football Confederation
14 years after the formation of AFC, the Asian Ladies Football Confederation (ALFC) was founded in a meeting with participants from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. In 1986, ALFC merged with the AFC. ALFC arranges the AFC Women's Asian Cup, AFC U-19 Women's Championship and AFC U-17 Women's Championship.