Kuala Lumpur: They are the goals that made entire nations roar. Every four years, the FIFA World Cup makes football the centrepiece of the world and ignites the hopes of millions of fans.
This June and July, the-AFC.com celebrates Asia’s contribution to the greatest show on earth by reliving 20 of the continent’s best FIFA World Cup goals.
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Here, in the first of two semi-finals, we relive 10 moments of Asian inspiration, with 10 more to come next week, as we invite fans to cast their votes with the top five from each semi-final advancing to the final.
There are sensational set-pieces, remarkable runs and long-range lightning bolts, but which one stands out?
Park Seung-zin – DPR Korea
v Chile, July 15, 1966
History remembers them as the team who stunned Italy, but DPR Korea’s 1966 campaign got up running with a crucial draw against Chile four days earlier.
A goal down, and two minutes away from group stage elimination, Park Seung-zin’s piercing low volley not only salvaged a point, but gave Asia’s its first ever World Cup goal.
Iraj Danaeifard – IR Iran
v Scotland, June 7, 1978
Appearing in the Finals for the first time, and having lost to the Netherlands in their opening match, a moment of Iraj Danaeifard inspiration gave IR Iran their first ever FIFA World Cup point in Cordoba.
Appearing on the left flank, Danaeifard tricked his way past a defender, then slipped the ball under goalkeeper Alan Rough from an acute angle, becoming the first man from his country to find the back of the net on the world’s biggest stage.
Choi Soon-ho – Korea Republic
v Italy, June 10, 1986
Choi Soon-ho’s double against Italy at the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship meant the Azzurri would have been well aware of his talents prior to their meeting at Mexico ’86, but even they must have been stunned by his scorching equaliser in Puebla.
Receiving the ball at the edge of the penalty area, the Pohang striker found half a yard of space before unleashing a thunderous strike, and, while Italy went on to win the match 3-2, Choi’s goal would live long in the memory.
Ahmed Radhi – Iraq
v Belgium, June 8, 1986
A quick pass, a deft controlling touch and a superb strike into the bottom corner of Jean-Marie Pfaff’s goal not only gave Iraq their only FIFA World Cup goal but wrote Ahmed Radhi’s name into footballing folklore.
Radhi was on the scoresheet a remarkable 62 times in his international career, but none of his stellar collection of goals meant more than his strike against the Belgians.
Hong Myung-bo – Korea Republic
v Germany, June 27, 1994
While he would retire nearly a decade later as one of Asia’s greatest defenders, Hong Myung-bo was Korea Republic’s top scorer at USA ’94, finding the net twice in their three group matches.
The second of those goals may have come in a 3-2 defeat, but Hong’s 30-yard piledriver against defending champions Germany was a strike of outstanding quality.
Saeed Al Owairan – Saudi Arabia
v Belgium, June 29, 1994
Four days after their first ever FIFA World Cup win, the Green Falcons reached even greater heights thanks to a spectacular individual effort which made Saeed Al Owairan a fixture on highlight reels for years to come.
In a must-win match against Belgium, Al Owairan produced a moment of pure inspiration, dribbling from well inside his own half, and beating a succession of Belgian defenders before stroking the ball high into the net to send Saudi Arabia into the Round of 16.
Park Ji-sung – Korea Republic
v Portugal, June 14, 2002
A future English Premier League winner, all-time Korea Republic great and the first Asian to player to score in three consecutive World Cups, Park Ji-sung’s first goal on the FIFA World Cup stage was as brilliant as it was important.
After using his chest and right boot to control a deep cross - shrugging off Portugal’s Sérgio Conceição in the process – Park half-volleyed the ball with his left foot, delighting the 50,000-strong crowd in Incheon and sending the Koreans through to the knockout stage as group winners.
Keisuke Honda – Japan
v Denmark, June 24, 2010
In a FIFA World Cup where precious few set-piece takers managed to find their range, Keisuke Honda showed them all how it was done with a stunning swerving effort in Rustenberg.
From fully 35 yards out - and in a match his side couldn’t afford to lose - Honda unleashed an effort which bamboozled Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and put Japan on track for a momentous win.
Tim Cahill – Australia
v Netherlands, June 18, 2014
He may be a player who turned FIFA World Cup magics into a one-man quadrennial tradition but, even for Tim Cahill, this was something special.
Seconds after falling behind to the Netherlands in Porto Alegre, Australia’s talisman lashed home a remarkable left-volley. It was audacious, it was outrageous, and it reaffirmed Cahill’s status as the ultimate player for the big occasion.
Takashi Inui – Japan
v Belgium, July 2, 2018
Against one of the pre-tournament favourites in the Round of 16, life didn’t seem like it could get much better for fans of Japan when Takashi Inui produced a superb goal to double their lead early in the second half.
Receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, Inui’s effort rendered Thibaut Courtois helpless, and while the match would end in Japanese heartbreak, it capped a terrific tournament for the Spain-based winger.
Vote for your five favourite FIFA World Cup Goals. Poll ends at 11:00 (UTC +8) on July 3.
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