The Socceroos are now fully focussed on the biggest football tournament ever to be held in Australia. The 2015 AFC Asian Cup takes place in January and seven games are scheduled in Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
The top 16 nations in the Asian confederation will contest the tournament, initially in four groups of four teams with the top two from each group progressing to the quarter Finals. As well as one of Australia’s Group A fixtures, Sydney will also host a quarter final, a semi-final and the final itself on January 31st. Tickets are now available for all matches, and for those who don’t want to miss a kick, a venue pack is available that gives access to all seven games at ANZ Stadium.
The Socceroos have a realistic chance of winning the tournament on home soil. Despite some recent setbacks in friendlies their performances at the World Cup were much better than expected, and the other Asian nations did not do particularly well in their respective groups either.
Along with Australia, Japan and South Korea will go into the tournament as favourites. Japan have won three of the last four tournaments, with only Iraq able to break their dominance in 2007. Having reached the quarter finals in 2007, and the final in 2011, the Socceroos will hopefully be able to take that last extra step in January.
As with any tournament there is always scope for an unfancied team to cause some upsets and emerge as contenders. Jordan have reached the quarter finals in each of the previous two editions of the Asian Cup, and proved a tricky opponent for the Socceroos in World Cup qualifying.
When the Socceroos arrive in Sydney on January 13th to face Oman they will hopefully already have a first win under their belt from the opening game against Kuwait. Victory over Oman should avoid the need for a win in the tricky final group game against South Korea in Brisbane. Should Australia win their group, and successfully negotiate the Quarter Finals, then they will be back at ANZ Stadium for a Semi Final on Australia Day.
The hosting of the Asian Cup is another huge step for the development of football in Australia, and builds on the momentum being generated by the A-League. The benefits of hosting the tournament will be felt across the country with upgrades to facilities and stadiums, including Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.
2015 AFC Asian Cup, January 10th – 31st 2015