Monday, December 15, 2014


Australia In AFF Cup?

Australian Under 16s celebrate winning the AFF Championship in 2008
So, what do you reckon? Australia to enter the ASEAN Football Federation Cup in 2016? Apparently this is being mooted and a decision could be taken at a meeting this Friday.

Anything that raises the standards of local football has to be a good thing and surely pitting wits against a regional powerhouse on a regular basis surely falls into that category?

After all, look who the ASEAN teams played in the run up to the AFF Cup this year. No offence but are you going to improve by playing the likes of Papua New Guinea or Macau?

Let's face one like Japan, Australia or South Korea is going to give up a precious FIFA date by playing some nonentity like Indonesia or Thailand...there is no benefit for them rankings wise. But put them in a competitive environment like the AFF Cup and hey presto...their reluctance may ebb as they way up the pros of blooding fringe players in meaningful games.

But this would not be about them. Any expansion of the AFF Cup has to ultimately benefit ASEAN football; there is no point having 10 teams battle each other only for Australia to meet Japan in the final. Perhaps opening the door to Australia and allowing one other team to qualify could be a good start?

From a local point of view there is an obvious benefit for local players coming up against the Socceroos on a regular basis. A different sporting culture, sledging, never say die, ASEAN has much to learn from other countries, lessons that don't always come across when watching games on TV where analysis amounts to blaming the defence or the ref.

Robbie Gaspar is a man with feet in both camps. Aussie born, Gaspar spent most of his career playing in Indonesia for Persiba, Persita and Persema among others and he is convinced letting Australia compete would be a win-win.

' I think it will be a good thing with Australia joining the AFF Suzuki Cup. It will be a good test for Australia and by no means a walk in the park for Australia. Hopefully help to lift the standard of the tournament to an even higher level and give the ASEAN teams an opportunity to play against Australia.

'Play against a different style of football. Maybe some players from the other countries could get picked up by A-League clubs.'

Yes, we know players from this region have talent and yes we know football has potential but that talent and that potential is not being realised on a regular basis. Amateur thinking forms the football dialogue  and that thinking comes from amateur administrators with their own agendas. Will they even want to have their naivety shown up on a regular basis by professional footballers and professional bodies?

Unfortunately the powers that be like to have the EPL clubs come and visit. Then they can show off their 'connections' get the selfies and pander to the masses. But those visits are meaningless and don't benefit the local game one iota.

Australia competing in the AFF Cup, having open training sessions for local schools, making themselves accessible to local media, holding clinics for local coaches (not the highly choreographed events by the likes of Arsenal etc)...that would be positive for football in the region.

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