Asian football chiefs dismayed World Cup flop

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam called for an overhaul of domestic leagues after Australia were the only regional team to make it past the first round.

“Undeniably, we are still far behind the international level that we aspire to. We must work hard to close the gap with the big guns. I must say that I am very disappointed with our results in Germany,” he said.

“All national associations and clubs should play their role to improve the overall standard of Asian football. Restructuring and improving the standard in our clubs and in our leagues is the only way for us to head into professionalism.”

AFC technical committee chairman Zhang Jilong said Asian football needed to “buck up”.

“The challenge starts now. We must start our work now to close down the gap between the Asian teams and the powers of world football,” said Zhang.

“There is a long way to go and a big task ahead of us. In the next four years, we have to make a vast improvement. In simple words, we need to buck up.”

Asian champions Japan bowed out tamely with just a point to finish bottom of their group, while 2002 semi-finalists South Korea were above only Togo in Group G.

Iran finished bottom of Group D and Saudi Arabia propped up Group H with just a point each.

Australia, who only joined the AFC this year, reached the second round where they were beaten by eventual champions Italy.