The Asian Football Confederation's biggest tournament runs throughout January, with Australia providing the platform for this year's competition.
This is the 16th edition of the Asia Cup, and the hosts are hoping to score their first victory since joining the AFC.
The event runs from Jan. 9-31, with a total of 16 teams taking part across four groups.
Here, we take a look at the opening results of the Asian Cup and provide you with the current group standings and fixture info:
|Group A: Results and Fixtures|
|Jan. 9||Australia 4-1 Kuwait||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Jan. 10||Korea Republic 1-0 Oman||4 p.m.||5 a.m.||12 a.m.|
|Jan. 13||Kuwait vs. Korea Republic||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Jan. 13||Oman vs. Australia||7 p.m.||8 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Jan. 17||Australia vs. Korea Republic||7 p.m.||8 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Jan. 17||Oman vs. Kuwait||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Group B: Results and Fixtures|
|Jan. 10||Uzbekistan 1-0 DPR Korea||6 p.m.||7 a.m.||2 a.m.|
|Jan. 10||Saudi Arabia 0-1 China PR||7 p.m.||8 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Jan. 14||DPR Korea vs. Saudi Arabia||6 p.m.||7 a.m.||2 a.m.|
|Jan. 14||China PR vs. Uzbekistan||7 p.m.||8 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Jan. 17||Uzbekistan vs. Saudi Arabia||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Jan. 17||China PR vs. DPR Korea||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Group C: Results and Fixtures|
|Jan. 11||UAE 4-1 Qatar||6 p.m.||7 a.m.||2 a.m.|
|Jan. 11||Iran 2-0 Bahrain||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Jan. 15||Bahrain vs. UAE||6 p.m.||7 a.m.||2 a.m.|
|Jan. 15||Qatar vs. Iran||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Jan. 19||Iran vs. UAE||7 p.m.||8 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Jan. 19||Qatar vs. Bahrain||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Group D: Results and Fixtures|
|Jan. 12||Japan 4-0 Palestine||6 p.m.||7 a.m.||2 a.m.|
|Jan. 12||Jordan 0-1 Iraq||7 p.m.||8 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Jan. 16||Palestine vs. Jordan||6 p.m.||7 a.m.||2 a.m.|
|Jan. 16||Iraq vs. Japan||7 p.m.||8 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Jan. 20||Japan vs. Jordan||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Jan. 20||Iraq vs. Palestine||8 p.m.||9 a.m.||4 a.m.|
Jan. 22 Winner Group A vs. Runner-up Group B (match 25, Melbourne)
Jan. 22 Winner Group B vs. Runner-up Group A (match 26, Brisbane)
Jan. 23 Winner Group C vs. Runner-up Group D (match 27, Canberra)
Jan. 23 Winner Group D vs. Runner-up Group C (match 28, Sydney)
Jan. 26 Winner match 25 vs. winner match 27 (Sydney)
Jan. 27 Winner match 26 vs. winner match 28 (Newcastle)
Jan. 30 (Newcastle)
Jan. 31 (Sydney)
Australian Ambitions To Conquer Japan Dominance
The home nation will feel they are the overwhelming favourites to defeat the powerhouses of South Korea and holders Japan on home soil.
Japan broke Aussie hearts in the last competition in 2011, when they grabbed a dramatic extra-time win against the Socceroos in the final.
But Tim Cahill and company will feel they have all the advantages on their side on this occasion as they attempt to win their very first title. Australia coach Ange Postecoglou will have to change the mindset of his team for the competition—the Aussies are often the underdog in World Cup terms.
However, despite home advantage, the visiting Japanese are still considered the bookies' slight favourites at 2-1, per Oddschecker.com.
This could be due to the feeling that Australia have not progressed at the rate it was thought they would after their 2006 World Cup campaign, which showed the fine health of the sport in the country.
Goalkeeping legend Mark Schwarzer recently attributed this to the advances in the Australian A-League, keeping talent within the domestic framework rather than challenging itself in stronger leagues.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, the new Leicester City signing, who has been a regular in the Premier League for many years, criticised his countrymen for their defeatist stance and not challenging themselves to improve:
All of us who played at the 2006 World Cup went through the hard times in Europe. It is not happening any more. We have very few guys getting their head down and digging in Europe. The A-League is a way out; it is an escape route for some players.
You see it now more than ever. Guys come overseas, they last six months and then they turn around and return to the A-League.
But despite the goalkeeper's opinion, Australia have a fantastic opportunity to taste success this time around. In Cahill, they have the player built for the big occasion, and his experience will be vital during the competition.
But Japan have a pair of aces up their sleeve with the attacking talents of Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda. The 28-year-old Honda has seen his form dramatically improve in recent times after his transfer to AC Milan.
He has found the back of the net six times for the San Siro giants in his 15 La Liga starts, per WhoScored.com, and the player will have a vital say in where the trophy ends up.
Kagawa has had a disappointing couple of seasons with Manchester United, despite winning the English league—after he signed from Borussia Dortmund—but the player returned to Germany in the summer to reignite his career.
That is yet to happen as BVB fight an unexpected relegation battle, seeing Kagawa's playing time compromised.
However, this is an opportunity for the lucid attacker to cut loose and pair with Honda—driving their country on to success.
Japan have won four of the past six Asian Cup finals, per Adam Shergold of the Mail Online, and they still have the firepower to once again upset the Aussies on their own patch.
Australia are not a traditional football nation, but there is a real thirst for the game in the country at present. They have previously bid to host the World Cup, and a victory in the Asian Cup will see the sport's popularity explode.
South Korea and Iran will also offer credible opposition, but the name on the trophy will surely be that of Japan's, or—for the very first time—the effervescent Socceroos.