This is apparently the ''Asian century''. From the re-emergence of the world's oldest, newest superpower China to the rise and rise of K-pop sensation and YouTube superstar PSY, Asia is in the ascendancy.
But before you swallow the kimchi whole, consider this ... in football, that most serious and most trusted of indicators of global dominance, Asia is far from centre stage. And worse, it is set to fall further behind.
As the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Brazil on Friday, I was urging our Asian competitors – Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea – and their erstwhile, soon to be sleep-deprived fans, to strap on the shin pads. For we are set to come back from South America battered and bruised.
In fact, I would be amazed if any Asian team can even get out of the group stages.
Of course, I'd gladly eat my words if proved wrong. Heck, I'd even eat Korean barbecued kangaroo with a side of Persian couscous, all washed down with sake. But I am unlikely to be sated in both footballing and foodie terms.
So why all the naysay before a single shot (at goal) has been fired clumsily off the shin pads and into row z?
Firstly, the World Cup is a numbers game. And by most statistical measures, Asian countries do not come close to figuring among the favourites for this year's tournament. We don't even rate a mention as ''sleepers'' capable of upsets.
Take for example the prediction of Five Thirty Eight – the blog established by world-renowned statistician Nate Silver, who has spent years successfully predicting major sporting and election outcomes.
It gives Brazil a whopping 45 per cent chance of winning football's ultimate prize. Argentina comes in second (with a 13 per cent chance) while Germany rounds out the podium with an 11 per cent chance of winning.
According to Silver and co, of the four Asian teams, South Korea has the best chance of winning, coming in at 25th overall but with a probability of 0.1 per cent. Japan follows thereafter in 27th and also with a 0.1 per cent chance. Then Iran at 29 and Australia last at 32 – both with 0.0 per cent chance.
Other respectable ''modellists'', like The Economist and a bunch of bankers, all agree on a Brazil win, with a bit of dithering between Argentina, Germany and Spain as the eventual runner-up. Portugal is another contender for close but no cigar. Then again, none of these bankers or The Economist saw the global financial crisis coming.
Asia's small odds of big returns this World Cup is based on solid reasoning. FIFA's world rankings system paints a justified picture of doom and gloom. Its points system relegates Asian teams well down the pecking order.
The top ranked Asian country is Iran (at 43). Japan is next (at 46), followed by South Korea (57) chased up by Australia (62). In fact, Australia ranks lower than the footballing powerhouse that is Uzbekistan (knocked out in the qualifying stages for this World Cup, who sit at 59).
And while tournament football can be a thing of fine margins with games decided on the cruellest of small details – a misplaced pass here, a rash challenge there, a bunch of pouting overpaid Frenchies refusing to get off a bus anywhere – simply put, most of Asia's competitors are much more competitive on present and past form.
Australia – in one of three ''groups of death'' at this year's tournament – is widely expected to be the first team on a plane home. Little wonder. We face three teams in the top 15: world and European champions Spain, Chile and the Netherlands.
Iran, Japan and South Korea's opposition aren't any easier. For my yen, skilful, fast-moving Japan may be Asia's best bet of making the second round, but still have to navigate a tricky group containing Colombia, Ivory Coast and Greece.
South Korea would have to overcome the rising stars of Belgium and Russia to get there, as well as top African team Algeria. Iran face stiff opposition in the form of Argentina, first-timers but no slackers Bosnia-Herzegovina, and seasoned campaigners Nigeria – who are African champions.
But even if you don't trust the number-crunching, Asia's prospects look bleak by another measure – history. And much like the 20th century, history is definitely not on Asia's side.
To date, the final of every single World Cup has been contested by either European or South American teams. European nations have won 10 times, South American nine.
The World Cup of 2002 seemed to herald the arrival of Asia on the global football scene. The tournament was co-hosted with huge success by Japan and South Korea, and Japan reached the second round. South Korea spectacularly rolled powerhouses Italy and Spain to reach the semi-finals.
But four short years later in Germany, the same old traditional powers dominated once again. Italy, France, Germany and Portugal were the last four standing. South Africa in 2010 was much the same.
The heyday of 12 years ago now seems a blip. It was a wet Chinese rocket, more fizzle than firecracker.
The likelihood of that changing this time around, or any time in the future, is Buckley's to none.
James Giggacher is Asia Pacific editor at the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific. He’s also a football tragic.