Group B of Asian Cup 2015 after the second round

2015 AFC Asian Cup crest.png

1  China PR (A) 2 2 0 0 3 1 +2 6 Advance to knockout stage
2  Saudi Arabia 2 1 0 1 4 2 +2 3
3  Uzbekistan 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 3
4  North Korea (E) 2 0 0 2 1 5 −4 0

(A) Advances to a further round; (E) Eliminated.

China have quarter-final berth in their sights

Brisbane: China aim to return to the AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals for the first time in more than a decade with what they hope will be their first win over Uzbekistan at the continental championship, defender Zhang Linpeng said on Tuesday.

China are in good position to qualify for the second round from Group B after edging Saudi Arabia 1-0 on Saturday. They face Uzbekistan at Brisbane Stadium on Wednesday in a top-of-the-table clash for a potential place in the knockout phase.

China, though, have never beaten Uzbekistan at the Asian Cup from three previous meetings with a pair of defeats and a draw. Alain Perrin’s men are fully aware their opponents will be a tough proposition but are focusing on their own game, not Uzbekistan’s.

China’s last trip to the last eight dates back to 2004, when they hosted Asia’s flagship competition.

“We also played Uzbekistan at the last Asian Cup and that was a strong team,” said Zhang. “They had very good players – experienced players. But we will worry about playing our game and be ourselves.

“We haven’t qualified for the knockout stage for 10 years but now we have a very good chance after winning our first match. We’ll just try our best.”

Saudi Arabia coach Cosmin Olaroiu said China were fortunate to beat them after the game, and Zhang concedes Lady Luck was kind to his team. The Guangzhou Evergrande man, however, still believes China were the ones who deserved the three points.

“In the last match, we had many good chances but we just didn’t take them,” said Zhang. “But I think we had more desire to win than our opponents. We wanted to win.

“Of course we were a little lucky – we saved a penalty and scored from a deflected free kick but I still think we deserved to win.”

Perrin plans to neutralize Uzbekistan by containing their creative fulcrum, Server Djeparov.

“Djeparov is rich in experience and has scored lots of goals in the Korean league,” the Frenchman said. “We will have some special arrangements for him, especially on set pieces.

“We are off to a very good start. Our opponents in the next match will be stronger and are ranked fourth in Asia. They reached the semi-finals last time, and a lot of their players here played at the previous Asian Cup.

“I think the advantage we have on them is our teamwork and fighting spirit. You need to play three games in the group phase and if we want to qualify for the next round, we will have to play well in our remaining two games.

“The past is the past. I think we are very well prepared now.”

Source : Asian Football Confederation website

Asian Cup 2015: the lowdown on Saudi Arabia v China

January 9, 2015 – 4:29PM

Dominic Bossi

Sports reporter

Bandera de Arabia Saudita

Bandera de la República Popular China

Saudi Arabia v China
Brisbane Stadium, 8pm (AEDT).

Five to watch.

Nasser Al-Shamrani.

The enigmatic forward will spearhead Saudi Arabia’s attack and will be out to catch the headlines for the all the right reasons in Australia. An unpredictable player with pace in abundance, Al-Shamrani is near impossible to contain. He’s a fiery character, but whatever calm he does have in his game plan, he saves for his composed finishing.

Osama Hawsawi.

Saudi Arabia’s general in defence, captain Hawsawi has the unenviable task of uniting a team rife with instability at coaching and board level. Tall, powerful and a good reader of the game, the Saudis’ hopes for success hinge largely on his leadership from the back line.

Fahad Al-Mullawad.

The young winger is a chance to start in the opening game against China and could be one of the exciting players to make a name for themselves this tournament. He has plenty of flair and pace, which make him a nuisance for defenders but draw admiration from fans.

Gao Lin.

The Guangzhou Evergrande striker is one of the most technically gifted in the Chinese national team and is equally adept playing as a centre forward or in a wider role. His ability to drift into channels makes him difficult to mark and he doesn’t require too many chances to score.

Zheng Zhi.

One of the few players in the Chinese squad with plenty of experience playing in Europe, the veteran midfielder will have to draw on all of that to lead his team out of a difficult group. He has the ability to score and create, but it is his defensive work in the middle of the field that will be the most pivotal against a dangerous Saudi side.

In the dugout.

Cosmin Olaroiu.

The Romanian coach had just a matter of weeks to work with Saudi Arabia before the start of the tournament, so any sign of fluency in their play and impressive tactics will be nothing short of a miracle. His best hope for the opening match is in building a strong mentality within the squad which can serve as a platform for better things to come.

Alain Perrin.

The French coach has been working towards this tournament for a year now, having tested his side in plenty of warm-ups but no competitive fixtures. A blend of experience and youth bodes well for the cup, highlighted by a 4-1 demolition of Oman last week. An opening-day victory is integral to their hopes of getting out of a difficult group.

A little bit of politics.

It is no surprise that oil is the backbone of relations between China and Saudi Arabia. The two nations didn’t hold diplomatic talks until the early 1990s but have developed economic ties hinged entirely on the oil supply of the gulf state. Saudi and Chinese companies are involved in high-profile major projects with one another with lucrative business deals never far away from the hierarchy of each state.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Asian Cup 2015: Socceroos profile

Asia 11 - FIFA 94

Australia rivals in groups phase

Kuwait
8pm Fri, 9 Jan
Melbourne

Oman
8pm Tue, 13 Jan
Sydney

South Korea
8pm Sat, 17 Jan
Brisbane

Local times

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

As host nation.

BEST FINISH

Australia has only competed in two Asian Cups, reaching the quarter-finals in 2007 and losing the final to Japan in extra time in 2011.

THE COACH

Ange Postecoglou was appointed in October last year 2013 to widespread popular acclaim as the mood of the footballing public demanded that the Socceroos once more had a local as coach following a succession of Dutch and German mentors. Postecoglou had taken Brisbane Roar to two A-League titles and made the Queensland side the most successful in the competition’s history, and was in charge of Melbourne Victory when he answered the FFA’s call. Led Australia to the World Cup, where their performances, if not results, won praise. Is in the midst of a major renewal project, bringing in a new generation of players to succeed the veterans whowhich hitherto brought the nation success.

THE STEREOTYPE IS

Australia, you play a long ball, physical game reliant on height, strength and pace, don’t you.

THE REALITY IS

Postecoglou likes his teams to build from the back and play a passing game to create opportunities in the final third.

KEY PLAYER

Tim Cahill, who else. Talismanic Tim will be 35 when the competition kicks off, but he is still the team’s most reliable route to goal.

PREDICTION

Semi-final.

ONE FOR THE A-LEAGUE SCOUTS

Many in Postecoglou’s squad already play here but all clubs would be delighted to get Cahill or Mark Bresciano in their dotage, even if only for one season.

WILD CARD

Few out-there characters in this squad. We wait to see if coach Postecoglou gets stuck into his former Fox Sport colleagues if the going gets tough and he cops some flak.

 

Main Player

player

Tim Cahill

Source : The Canberra Times

Asian Cup 2015:Bahrain profile

Asia 13 - FIFA 104

Group C Schedule
All times are local
Iran
8pm Sun, 11 Jan
Melbourne
China
6pm Fri, 15 Jan
Canberra
Qatar
8pm Mond,19 Jan
Sydney
Our Expert Guide

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Rampaged through their qualifying group unbeaten, never giving an inch to Yemen, Malaysia and a rapidly improving Qatar side. They conceded only one goal in six matches, indicating their defence is up there with the best on the continent. Four wins and two draws made for an impressive qualification.

BEST FINISH

Fourth place in 2004.

THE COACH

Marjan Eid comes into the Asian Cup as arguably the tournament’s least recognised manager. After all, he has only been in the job for a few weeks after taking over from one of Asia’s most respected coaches, Adnan Hmad of Iraq, who was fired after a poor start to November’s Gulf Cup of Nations.

THE STEREOTYPE IS

Like most teams in the Gulf, the Bahrainis have a reputation for technically skilled players, especially out wide where their dribbling comes to the fore. There is questionable depth in attack, however.

THE REALITY IS

They could cause headaches but would seem unlikely to progress far. Their rearguard, led by evergreen captain Mohamed Husain, will be difficult to break down. They went winless and goalless in last month’s Gulf Cup, drawing 0-0 with Qatar and Yemen either side of a 3-0 blitz by Saudi Arabia.

KEY PLAYER

Ismail Abdul-Latif. With naturalised Nigerian striker Jaycee John appearing to have fallen out of favour, the attacking onus has fallen on Abdul-Latif. He has done that admirably, drawing level with the legendary Husain Ali as Bahrain’s all-time leading scorer (33 goals). He will need to be at his very best next month.

PREDICTION

Lobbed in with Asian heavyweights Iran, the in-form Gulf Cup champion Qatar and everyone’s dark horse, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain would appear to be up against it. They are a fighting chance if they can hold Iran in Canberra in their opening match and then overcome one of their local rivals. But it is a tough mission. Group stage exit.

ONE FOR THE A-LEAGUE SCOUTS

Mahmood Abdulrahman. Let’s be honest – Australia is not filled with a surplus of natural number 10’s. Having enjoyed a fabulous decade-long career in his homeland, with a brief stint in Kuwait, Abdulrahman may be the sort of player who could enjoy an Indian summer in the A-League. The 30-year-old is a supremely gifted player, although his wages at home would be akin to marquee status here.

WILD CARD

Sayed Mohammed Jaffer. The long-serving Bahraini keeper has spent a decade between the posts for Al-Ahmar and has regularly impressed with some outstanding displays. Just do not mention the night Rory Fallon headed past him to send New Zealand to the World Cup in 2009.

player

Main Player

Mohammed Jaffer

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Asian Cup 2015: Nathan Burns named in 23-man Socceroos squad

December 23, 2014 – 6:18PM

Michael Lynch

Senior sports reporter with The Age

Can it really be termed a surprise if the hottest striker in the league has forced his way into national team calculations?

If anyone said six months ago that Nathan Burns was a chance to be a starter in the Socceroos opening game of the Asian Cup in January they would have been offered long odds against the possibility.

Phoenix striker Nathan Burns has been named in the Socceroos' Asian Cup squad.

Phoenix striker Nathan Burns has been named in the Socceroos’ Asian Cup squad. Photo: Getty

The 26-year-old still might be up against it shoving Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse and Tim Cahill out of the way,  but the fact that his recent goal glut has seen him grab an 11th-hour place in the national squad for the tournament makes him a viable option.

Burns, along with Sydney midfielder Terry Antonis and West Sydney Wanderers striker Tomi Juric are the newest faces in the 23-man party Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou on Tuesday named for the tournament.

The group is headed by captain Mile Jedinak and veterans Mark Bresciano and striker Tim Cahill, but it also contains most of the names that have become familiar during Postecoglou’s 14-month reign in the job, including some of the A-League’s best-known players – Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan, Brisbane skipper Matt McKay and Wanderers centre back Matt Spiranovic, as well as the three fresh faces in Burns, Antonis and Juric.

Men like Oliver Bozanic, James Holland, Adam Taggart and Ben Halloran, all of whom made the World Cup squad in Brazil, have been left out, while an unlucky candidate was Melbourne City midfielder Aaron Mooy, who came close to selection.

Postecoglou has tried and tested, searched and sifted and come up with a group that, he believes, is as close as he can get to the right mix for a tournament that the Socceroos will enter under a weight of expectation, despite – or maybe because – of their run of disappointing results over the past few months.

Postecoglou has always said he chose a series of difficult games away from home in the lead-up to the Asian Cup to temper his young squad with steel and speed their development in the international arena. His moment of truth is fast approaching.

The selection of Burns who has been in sparkling form during the A-League campaign since joining the Kiwis, netting 10 goals – including two in the ‘Nix’s 2-0 win over Sydney on Sunday – is one that merits his excellent recent form. He will be hoping to impress even more in training to gain a starting berth when the Socceroos begin their pursuit of silverware against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9.

It is a tremendous turnaround for the one-time Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets forward, whose career nosedived after disappointing spells in Greece and South Korea.

“Form is probably the No. 1 thing,” the coach said when asked about Burns. “But there’s also a factor of whether players will fit into the style of football I want to play … it’s whether I believe people will fit into the style of football I want to play and the evolution of this team.

“I coached Mathan at under-17 level so I always knew he had the ability, and I think he’s the type of player who will fit into what we do. His form has been compelling, if you are a striker and scoring goals that’s pretty compelling getting you into the team.”

Burns was part of Holger Osieck’s squad that finished runners-up in the 2011 Asian Cup when they were beaten in extra time in the final by Japan and is one of seven players who were in that party, alongside Cahill, Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Tommy Oar, McKay and Spiranovic, who will be seeking to go one better here.

The closest thing to a “bolter” in this line-up is Sydney FC midfielder Terry Antonis, but even his inclusion hardly comes as a surprise given the impact he has made in recent seasons.

Antonis was due to be part of the Socceroo squad that played Japan in a recent friendly but was injured in a car crash en route to the airport and could not take part.

“It’s been almost six months in the making since the FIFA World Cup,” Postecoglou said.

“We’ve had a series of games where there have been some pretty clear objectives, particularly in terms of broadening the pool and seeing whether we could get some better balance in the squad and more depth.”

“In the end, I’m pretty pleased with the 23 we’ve ended up with, there’s a good combination of the core of the group that went to the FIFA World Cup, there’s some experience there, but also a sprinkling of guys who will enhance the squad we took to the FIFA World Cup,” the coach said.

“This group of players have been thrown some unique challenges, particularly in the last six months in difficult conditions against formidable opponents but that’s to get them battle hardened. It’s going to be nice for them to walk out in front of a full house having that support behind them.

“There’s always players who are a little bit unlucky not to be in it but we wanted to make it fairly competitive and we wanted players being on edge as to whether they would be selected.

“I had a pretty clear picture of a pool of about 30 players. We had to make decisions on the balance of the squad and picking one that was tournament specific.

“I felt going into the World Cup  we didn’t have depth in certain areas, and we were doing a patch-up job trying to cover them, the last six months has been about making sure we have got cover in all the areas we need to and making sure we have got depth.”
Squad: Terry Antonis, Aziz Behich, Mark Bresciano, Nathan Burns, Tim Cahill, Jason Davidson, Ivan Franjic, Eugene Galekovic (GK), Chris Herd, Mile Jedinak, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak (GK), Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Matt McKay, Mark Milligan, Tommy Oar, Mat Ryan (GK), Trent Sainsbury, Matthew Spiranovic, James Troisi, Alex Wilkinson.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Asian Cup is for building bridges, not settling scores

November 9, 2014 – 10:00PM

Names and shamed: Al Hilal's Nassir Al Shamrani.

Names and shamed: Al Hilal’s Nassir Al Shamrani.Photo: AFP

There are plenty of people determined to shame Nassir Al Shamrani when he comes to Australia for the Asian Cup. Please don’t. That would only shame Australia and a game which is supposed to represent the broadest possible church – good, bad or indifferent.

The shame for Al Shamrani is already there. Pictures don’t lie and, by spitting at Matthew Spiranovic at the end of a combustible Asian Champions League final, he already carries a shame that will live with him forever. We all need to move on.

Al Shamrani, unforeseen circumstances aside, will be in Brisbane and Melbourne as a key member of the Saudi Arabia side. It’s worth remembering his lamentable actions in Riyadh weren’t in the white shirt of the “Falcons”, but in the blue shirt of Al Hilal. Thus he wasn’t representing his nation, or even his city. Indeed such is the antipathy, or perhaps envy, towards Al Hilal from rival clubs that many Saudis remain delighted Western Sydney Wanderers were able to spoil their party.

So don’t confuse Al Hilal with Saudi Arabia, nor assume Al Shamrani’s act of bad sportsmanship would be accepted by his countrymen. If there’s a price to pay, it’s up to the Asian Football Confederation to make him pay it. Word is he might get a six-match ban. We’ll see. In the meantime, the lynch mob can put their nooses away.

Instead, Australia needs to show its best face to Asia in January, not the face of bigotry, racism, intolerance and vengeance. While the dark corners of social media remain a willing refuge for this sad undercurrent of our society, here the surface media has a significant role to play.

You can see the temptation for editors to demonise Al Shamrani, but there’s a persuasive argument against sensationalism. Football is a powerful tool to build many different bridges to Asia and the Asian Cup is a huge opportunity to turbocharge those relationships. What’s said and written here during January will impact a lot more than football. Hopefully, that will be remembered.

While ticket sales have been relatively sluggish, you sense a building excitement towards the Asian Cup. The Wanderers’ unlikely, unbelievable, success in the ACL has not only reinvigorated the football partnership with Asia, but reminded the broader sporting community of its potential. Some of these people will end up buying seats on the back of the Wanderers’ fairy tale, if only for the sake of curiosity. Either way, there is now a greater chance the 16-team tournament will leave a legacy, as long as the organisers are smart enough to leverage it.

In that context, there are two distinct markets. The Socceroos supporters and  those who want to support the 15 visiting teams. You’d expect the majority of tickets will be sold to those wearing green and gold, although the vibe around Ange Postecoglou’s team will have a big say in that.

As for the remainder, for the past 12 months organisers have been working to identify, and then embrace, the different Asian communities in Australia. Teams like Iraq, Iran, China, Japan, South Korea and perhaps Palestine may end up with a surprisingly large level of local support. The Gulf States are a hard sell, while North Korea is the hardest sell of all.

The most important legacy of the Asian Cup will be if these fans look back on the tournament as a positive experience. In the long term, that is more beneficial than how many tickets are sold, or who gets to hold the trophy in the end. Which is why the events surrounding the ACL final need to be forgotten, if not forgiven.

There is some irony in the fact that the Wanderers – the team on the receiving end of Al Shamrani’s brain explosion – put more effort towards assimilating with their various Asian constituents than any other A-League club. They have more reason to hold a grudge than anyone else, but they don’t. And won’t. Worth a thought, don’t you think?

 

Source : The Canberra Times