Creative Common photo Fars

The 17th edition of the AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates is entering its decisive phase. Only four teams are left in the tournament to play out the two final places.

In the first semi-final tomorrow, Japan and Iran will face each other.

In the quarter-finals, the Japanese team could only narrowly hold their own against the Vietnamese team, which had been playing a very strong tournament until then. In the 57th minute Ritsu Doan scored with a penalty and achieved the only goal of the match.

Vietnam started the game much more alert and aggressive, but could not turn this initial superiority into goals. A first goal from Japan, which was unexpected at that time, was not given after the video evidence was seen.

After the break, the record champion from Japan took over the command, but also needed the video proof himself to finally get the penalty. Ritsu Doan took on the responsibility, left the Iranian keeper no chance and scored the golden goal.

During the rest of the game the Japanese team missed out on several chances and had to fear for the semi-finals until the very end of the match.

Their opponent Iran made it better and had no trouble against the Chinese team and won 3:0. In the very one-sided game Iran took the lead early through Taremi and could already increase through Azmoun before the halftime break. China made too many mistakes in the course of the match, one then leading to Ansarifard's 3-0 win.

Iran will now face Japan in the first semi-final, which will be kicked off at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Monday. As always, I personally keep my fingers crossed for the Japanese team and hope that the Samurai Blue can once again bring the trophy back home.

The second semi-final will be played on Tuesday by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In their quarter-finals, the hosts surprisingly defeated the defending champions from Australia and continue flying high. Throughout the match, Australia actually was superior and much more active, but failed to strike through the hosts' defence.

After a mistake of their own, it was Mabkho who scored the lead in the 68th minute and which was also the winning goal for the Emirates. A goal for Australia was not given because of offside, again the video evidence helped the referees to make the decision.

The last quarter-final between Qatar and South Korea was quite similar. The South Koreans, who were the favourites, dominated the match in the first half, but Qatar, like the Emirates, showed a strong defensive performance, preventing them from falling behind several times.

In the second half too, it was only the Koreans who made the game until Hatem turned the match around with a powerful shot in the 78th minute. Only a few seconds after the restart, the Koreans also scored a goal, which due to offside position was not given after viewing the video evidence.

Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium photo Fars News Agency

So it was the Qatari side who was able to celebrate after the final whistle and now face the hosts, the United Arab Emirates, in an all-Arab semi-final which will be held at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on the coming Tuesday.

The winners of the semi-finals, who will hopefully include the Japanese team, will then play out the final of the 17th Asian Championship next Friday.