The long wait is now over and the draw is out. The stage is now set for the biggest football event the Asian Confederation hosts, The Asian Cup Finals. Let’s have a look closer look at it.
Australia, the new kid on the block had been given a seed, something which was sure to come in hand given the calibre of teams on show. The seed meant Australia would not have to play the other seeded countries in Japan, Iran and Korea.
With the draw just recently completed, The Match Referee is gladly able to inform its readers that Australia has been given what could be considered the easiest group in the competition, Group A. Other members of Group A include, Iraq, Thailand and Oman. Compared with having the likes of unseeded countries such as Saudi Arabia, China and UAE, Australia has found itself with a golden opportunity to further enhance its reputation in the international community. Anything less than knock out qualification should be and will be deemed a failure for the Socceroos.
Yet failure should not even come in to the thoughts of Australian players and fans. The team has shown, through the World Cup qualification, The World Cup and numerous friendlies afterwards, that they are the real deal and rather than just being there to make up the numbers, they will have the capability to win the title.
Big guns in Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell should be back in action by then after long injury lay offs and with the Premier League nearing the end of its season, the players will be solely focused on the job at hand. Other encouraging news for the Socceroos is the form of stroke Mark Viduka. Viduka was another who had a long injury lay off due to a broken toe, but came back superbly for Middlesbrough by scoring a goal. The lay off in a way might have prolonged Viduka’s international career by giving his body a rest, something which is like gold in modern day football.
Although Viduka was widely criticized for his so called poor showing at the World Cup, he is a key member of this wonderful team and his importance was not recognised by fans all around the world. Although he might not have scored a lot of goals, his ability to hold off the ball and set up players like Bresciano, Cahill and Kewell was amazing. In modern day football, playing one striker upfront makes it extremely difficult for that man, who ever he maybe, as demonstrated by the likes of Wayne Rooney and co at the World Cup. The best of Viduka will only come out when he has someone to partner him up front.
Australian players are now playing a major role in club soccer all over the world, Vince Grella is captain of Serie A side Parma, Marco Bresciano starring for Palermaro, Jason Culina doing wonders for PSV Eindhoven, Lucas Neil captaining Blackburn and Tim Cahill being the main reason why Everton has done so well, the Asian Cup is in sight of the Socceroos.
What might also help the Socceroos is knowing that they have had more recent success than any of their fellow Asian heavy weights. They beat Japan convincingly at the World Cup and were the only Asian country to qualify for the last 16. With this in mind, anything is possible. Fingers crossed, the Asian Cup might be heading down under.
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