January 31, 2015 – 2:42PM
Good show: Iraq fans show their support during the Asian Cup. Photo: Matt Bedford
The organisation, feeling of goodwill towards every team and Aussie openness created an Asian Cup of exceptional quality that will be long admired all across Asia.
Take whichever metric you like. Crowds, social media, broadcast numbers across the region, quality of play. If we do say so ourselves, this tournament will be very hard to beat.
Kudos to the organising committee led by Michael Brown, his staff, volunteers and everyone who contributed. Job very well done guys.
A successful off-field outcome was important because we want to host many more such tournaments, including the World Youth Cup as we did twice before in 1981 and 1993, and Under-17s, male and female.
The women’s World Cup will be open to bids for 2023 and possibly the 2018 Women’s Asian Cup, as well of course as youth tournaments, and football needed to demonstrate to the Australian public and governments, the impact these events can have.
This was well and truly achieved. Socially, promotionally, diplomatically and competitively, a stunning success.
And no, I can’t resist making the point that if the cup was a “lemon” as Eddie McGuire – AFL chief of foot in mouthism – predicted, there is certainly plenty of lemonade to go around.
Australia is perfectly primed for external support of other nations within Asia or other confederations, and internally, to accelerate the rate of hosting football events, and the whole country is the winner.
We also showed why we would have been a wonderful World Cup host in 2022, but no use crying over spilt milk.
There was some talk about grumbles among AFC member nations about Australia’s membership.
We’ve heard this before and not surprisingly because we are now monopolising one of the four guaranteed World Cup spots. The challenge to Middle East nations is to improve, but it is not easy with populations sizes and other factors.
One thing that would solve the problem and create plenty for all is an Asian Super League. This is also one lesson from the Asian Cup – to see the Socceroos grow through regular, intense competition shows how far they could go if this was the norm, not the quadrennial exception.
I would like to see Australia advocate a region-wide league in which quasi-national teams could play, with additional high-quality imports from the top European level. This is how Asian football can bridge what is still a considerable gap.
Bear in mind that no Asian team has progressed past the semi-finals of the World Cup and last year none made it out of the group stage.
We must help each other to raise standards across the continent, otherwise our only option is to send more and more players abroad to compete at the top level.
Middle Eastern money has financed Manchester City, PSG in France and other clubs with billions of dollars. This money applied to a new league in Asia would completely change the destiny of every country within the region.
We could keep the lion’s share of the team together to play year round, and better minds than mine will tell you the broadcast rights alone would fund the world’s top players to improve the level. Asia would leap ahead of the US, or China more narrowly, as the destination of choice outside the Champions League contenders.
It might be worthwhile raising the concept with Prince Ali of Jordan, a rival to Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency, because Jordan would benefit immensely from this type of quality competition.
Why is this needed? Because of the journey we’re on.
The continental championship is the third of seven steps we aim to make. A fantastic showpiece, a great achievement, but purely another step on the ladder.
First was World Cup qualification in 1974, then getting out of the group in 2006, competing for and winning the Asian Cup, followed by Word Cup quarters, semis, final and ultimately becoming world champion.
Seven steps to heaven, each much more difficult than the last.
The same applies to the Matildas, who had already won the continental championship and are searching for a World Cup semi-final.
Step by step, our football will improve, we’ll face greater challenges, learn from every level and eventually we will win.
Who knows? After this wonderful month and a few more tournaments, we might one day get to win it all at home.
Now, that’s a dream we will never let go.
Source : The Canberra Times