AFC Women’s Asian Cup Power Rankings: Japan still top of class; Australia crash out; Philippines make history

The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup has officially reached the late stages as China, Japan, Philippines and South Korea have all qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and will now stand 90 minutes away from reaching the final. While those four have punched their World Cup tickets, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam — three of the quarterfinal losers — will play a round-robin for the final available direct spot. The other two will move on to the inter-confederation playoffs for a final shot at a place in the World Cup.

Australia were eliminated by South Korea in the Asian Cup, but the Matildas have already earned World Cup access as co-hosts of the 2023 World Cup with New Zealand. India, meanwhile, had to bow out of the tournament due to a COVID outbreak within the team. 

Let’s take a look at where teams land on our Power Rankings now that the tournament moves into semifinals. As always, fans can watch all the action live and on demand on Paramount+

1. Japan (–)

The top spot goes to the 2018 Asian Cup champions who went undefeated in the group stage, with a 1-1 draw against group co-favorites South Korea. The Nadeshiko won their quarterfinal against Thailand in style, 7-0, with the most goals scored in any of the 2022 quarterfinal matches. The team is playing confidently and is relatively healthy, though they are going to face a big challenge against China in the semifinal. Veteran Yuika Sugasawa netted four goals in the 7-0 thrashing of Thailand and the team will need more from her against China. 

2. China (–)

The Steel Roses advanced to the final four after defeating Vietnam 3-1 in the quarterfinals. China got off to a rocky start, conceding early in the first half, but forward Wang Shuang soon equalized and they went on to win convincingly. Shuang now has five goals in the tournament, two behind Sam Kerr. The play between Shuang and Wang Shanshan has been essential to China’s Asian Cup success and the duo will need another lights-out performance to dethrone Japan, the reigning 2018 Asian Cup champions.

3. South Korea (–)

South Korea punched their quarterfinal ticket with a 1-0 win over Australia, with star midfielder Ji So-yun scoring the lone goal. The dazzling shot from distance came at a price, as the Chelsea player ended up leaving the match with what looked like a groin injury. The team will need others to step up against an underdog Philippines side that is looking to make more history. South Korea could rely on Lee Geum-min to generate some offense for a spot in the final.

4. Philippines (+2)

The Philippines advanced to the semifinals in dramatic fashion after eliminating Chinese Taipei on penalty kicks. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation, with Sarina Bolden converting the historic penalty to advance into semifinals and clinch a spot in the 2023 World Cup. An emotional turn in the competition could propel them form underdogs to cup champions, though the extra time could come into play as they prepare to face a methodical South Korea side. 

5. Vietnam (+3)

Vietnam appear to be getting stronger as the tournament goes on. After two losses in the group stage, Vietnam scored their first goals and earned their first point on the final matchday to close out group play with a 2-2 draw against Myanmar. Their early goal from Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung against China in the quarterfinal provided a quick spark that quickly fizzled as they were eliminated from the competition, 3-1. They still have a shot at a spot in the World Cup if they can continue to build on their recent performances.

6. Chinese Taipei (+1)

After a big win 5-0 over Iran to close out group-stage play, Chinese Taipei dropped a heartbreaker to Philippines in the quarterfinal. After playing an even first half, the team went down early just minutes after halftime, but equalized late with a goal from Zhuo Li-ping. They were left chasing the game in extra time and ultimately were bounced in penalty kicks. Not all is lost as they could still claim the fifth and final World Cup qualifying spot in a the best-of-three round robin playoff, but only if the team recovers both mentally and physically for the task.

7. Thailand (-2)

One of three teams that still has a shot at claiming the final qualifying spot for the 2023 World Cup, Thailand will actually enter the playoff round robin knowing they’re the only team to have already previously competed in a World Cup (2019). That experience could be an X-factor moving forward.

8. Australia (-4)

The Matildas were eliminated in the quarterfinals in a 1-0 loss against South Korea. Despite their campaign getting off to a strong start, Australia fizzled down the stretch and were held scoreless for 50 minutes by Philippines before winning 4-0. They even needed Sam Kerr to come off the bench to secure a 2-1 victory over Thailand to close out group-stage play. Their 1-0 loss to South Korea in the quarterfinal was a disappointing finish for a team that entered the tournament as one of the favorites. An automatic World Cup berth as co-hosts is a nice thing to fall back on.

9. Myanmar (+1)

Closed out the group with scoring two goals and earning a point against Vietnam on the final matchday, but not enough to sneak into quarterfinals as Vietnam had the better goal differential. More investment into the program could have the nation back at a high level competition. 

10. Iran (-1)

The Iranian program made history with their arrival to this competition, and even earned a draw that was eventually voided due to India’s withdrawal from the tournament. Hopefully, a fruitful first step for the program moving forward that will lead to more investment for the team.

11. Indonesia (–)

Indonesia struggled throughout the entire competition, including a nightmare blowout against Australia where they lost 18-0. The team went on to lose more games in the group stage, never able to truly compete against their group rivals. Hopefully, with more resources and investment we will see Indonesia back at this level.

12. India (–)

India embraced their roles as tournament host, and made efforts to prepare through international friendlies ahead of the event. However, the host nation suffered a huge blow to their Asian Cup dreams after the squad was hit with a string of positive COVID-19 cases. A combination of positive tests and injuries prevented them from fielding a minimum of 13 players, which led to an official withdrawal based on official rules regarding COVID-19 in the competition. Despite earning a point in their first tournament match, all points and future games were considered null and void in line with competition rules. 

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