January 14, 2015 – 6:58PM
Sports Reporter at The Canberra Times
Canberra’s Costa Fallas showing off some of his uniform collection from the Asian Cup, the gloves of Oman keeper Ali Al-Habsi.
Meet Costa Fallas, the self-confessed Asian Cup nut who has been speaking in Arabic to players to convince them to give him their jerseys as he fills his memorabilia collection.
The hardcore soccer fan has souvenirs from the first three games at Canberra Stadium and is oozing with excitement as he prepares to watch his homeland of Jordan play two games in Melbourne.
Fallas has scored a signed pair of goalkeeping gloves from Oman’s Ali Al-Habsi, UAE shot-stopper Majed Naser’s shirt and one from Kuwait striker Faisal Al Enzi.
Costa Fallas with the shirt of Kuwait’s Faisal Al Enezi.
But while the Gungahlin United recruit simply thinks “God smiled on me” when the players actually gave him signed jerseys, he also made sure a stranger next to him got in on the action.
“There was an American kid next to me when the UAE played Qatar,” Fallas said.
“When I got the goalkeeper’s jersey he was a bit shocked and started asking players [for one], but they couldn’t understand English.
Costa Fallas with the shirt of UAE’s keeper Majed
“I told him to stand with me and I was speaking Arabic. As soon as a player from Qatar came along, I explained what was going on and he took his shirt straight off and gave it to this American kid.
“I am a soccer nut. I’ve been playing since I was a kid in Jordan and have been playing in Canberra since I’ve been here.”
Canberra Stadium will host its fourth game when the UAE plays Bahrain on Thursday night.
Despite officials fearing crowds would be at an alarming row, figures have been encouraging for the opening fixtures, largely thanks to strong support for South Korea.
But Fallas is one of the capital’s dedicated fans who don’t care which teams run on to the field.
The 30-year-old grew up in Jordan before moving to Canberra and spent last season playing for Canberra Olympic, but will join the Capital Football Premier League’s newest team – Gungahlin – this year.
He had tickets to go to the World Cup in Brazil last year, but complications and waiting for his visa application meant he had to sacrifice his soccer dream and sell his tickets to ensure he could live in Canberra.
“You can’t win them all. I was supposed to go to the World Cup but it was a better decision to stay in Australia, because I might not have been allowed back in while the visa was being processed,” Fallas said.
“I am going to Melbourne to watch three games as well, so I’ll get to meet the Jordanian team and I’ll get a signed jersey there.”
Al-Habsi plays for Wigan Athletic and was the first Omani to play in the English Premier League.
“I had an idea in my mind to ask them for some gear, but I didn’t think it would happen. I like Ali Al-Habsi and I hoped to get his special gloves because I’m a goalkeeper and I wanted to put them in my collection,” Fallas said.
“There weren’t many people around after the games, so it was a good chance, I asked a couple of times. Then he came out of the change-rooms with another pair of gloves, I was shocked.”
The UAE will attempt to move clear at the top of Group C when they play the winless Bahrain on Thursday night.
The final two pool matches will be played in Canberra on January 18 and 20 before the tournament moves into the quarter-finals.
Source : The Canberra Times