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India's bare 2018 calendar a cause of concern

'A four-nations tournament in June is likely to be the first major assignment for India in their run-up to the AFC Asian Cup in January next year.'

A four-nations tournament in June is likely to be the first major assignment for India in their run-up to the AFC Asian Cup in UAE, slated to start on January 5 next year.

With just one Asian Cup qualifier (vs. Kyrgyzstan on March 27) and the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) championship being the only other assured football pencilled in for India, that might not be enough for them to prepare for the continental tournament, where India will be making their first appearance since 2011.


 By John Duerden

Shinji Okazaki and Shinji Kagawa must make peace with Japan coach Vahid

Japan's Vahid Halilhodzic has been experimenting with new players and combinations ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

It was striking in November's friendlies against Brazil and Belgium that coach Vahid Halilhodzic decided to drop Shinji Okazaki, Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda from the Japan squad.

But in a World Cup year, Japanese fans will be hoping that the superstar trio returns for the next international action in March, just three months before their opening Group H match in Russia.

Here are five Japan football wishes for 2018.

1. Make peace with the big three

Halilhodzic chose to go into November internationals...

 By John Duerden

Son Heung-Min must produce Spurs' form as Korea plot for 2018 World Cup

Tottenham's Son Heung-Min speaks to ESPN Brasil to talk about his recent form, Spurs' upcoming match versus Man City and much more.
The FC guys answer your tweets on the match of the season thus far, the better goal between Pedro Obiang and Son Heung-Min and more.

Son Heung-Min helped Tottenham Hotspur break down a stubborn AFC Wimbledon to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Coming on a second-half substitute, Son livened up the Spurs' attack as they scored three times in eight minutes to win 3-0 at Wembley.

And Son looms as a key figure at June's World Cup, as John Duerden gives his five South Korean football wishes for 2018.

1. Son to replicate club form for country

Past national team coaches have struggled to get the best out of Son....

Wei Shihao moves from Portugal to Beijing Guoan for 2018 CSL

Jason Dasey and John Wilkinson break down ex-Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro's move back to Guangzhou Evergrande.

Beijing Guoan have announced the signing of China international Wei Shihao from Portuguese side Leixoes ahead of the 2018 Chinese Super League (CSL) season.

Wei, who made his debut for the Marcello Lippi-coached China national team at last month's East Asian Championship against South Korea, spent last season on loan at Shanghai SIPG.

The signing of the 22-year-old, which was confirmed on the club's social media outlets, is a coup for the capital side and the German coach Roger Schmidt.

They are...

 By Paul Murphy

Mauk, Cowburn goals help Australia beat Thailand in AFC U23 friendly

Jason Dasey and Kaz Patafta discuss how Ange Postecoglou will fit in at Yokohama and who the favourite is to become the new manager of Australia.
Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts evaluate Australia's World Cup group and assess whether they or any other Asian teams can progress.
The FC crew explain why Australia's outlook at the World Cup is dreary after being drawn with France, Peru and Denmark.
ESPN's Julien Laurens believes France will be very happy after drawing Australia, Peru and Denmark.

Australia's under-23 side emerged with a 2-1 victory over Thailand in the final warm-up match before the AFC U23 Championship begins in China this week.

Goals from Nicholas Cowburn and Stefan Mauk earned the win for the Olyroos before Supachok Sarachat struck a consolation for the Thais.

It took just eight minutes for the Aussies to open the scoring as Newcastle Jets defender Cowburn volleyed home on the rebound after Aleksandar Susnjar's header had hit the bar.

There were more opportunities in...