Asian Cup – Australia 2015

I had intended to revisit Morocco, with them holding the Club World Cup in December 2014 and the African Cup of Nations in January/February 2015, I thought it would be an ideal way of getting to know the country quickly. Well I think I did Ok in December and I would be more than happy to return but by now you will know that Morocco has declined the offer to host the tournament at this moment in time due to the outbreak of Ebola in African countries.

They were happy to host the event, but were not comfortable to host it at this particular time, and their offer to reschedule was declined , especially after Michel Platini told the organising committee that they should change the dates of the tournament

I looked into some of the facts and found myself confused by the stance the Moroccans took. I found that their National airline Royal Air Maroc travels to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the three countries that have had outbreaks of Ebola. Also that Guinea played their final qualifying match in Casablanca, Morocco on 19th November.

Then I saw that Equatorial Guinea suspended issuing visas for those intending to travel to Equatorial Guinea from central and west Africa. This was introduced as a preventative measure against the spread of Ebola to Equatorial Guinea.

The Equatorial Guinea government has requested that west and central African countries instruct their embassies in Equatorial Guinea to suspend issuing visas (to Equatorial Guinea nationals or foreign residents in Equatorial Guinea) for onward travel to any country in west or central Africa.
Cape Verde – West Africa
Cameroon – Central Africa
Burkina Faso – West Africa
Senegal – West Africa
Ivory Coast – West Africa
Ghana – West Africa
Guinea – West Africa
Mali – West Africa
Congo – West Africa
DR Congo – Central Africa
Gabon – Central Africa
Zambia – Central Africa

This leaves Equatorial Guinea, Algeria and Tunisia, as the only countries allowed to have supporters travelling from their own countries.

From my visit to Morocco in December I soon realised that the Moroccans were worried about any negative publicity from the fear of Ebola and the impact this would have on tourism which seems to me to be the lifeblood of the country. Which seeing all the scaremongering stories in the press here in the UK I can understand.

Then I found that it cost £3,000 to fly to Malabo the capital of Equatorial Guinea, hotels are in short supply and prices are at least £70 a night. On top of this the anti-corruption lobby Transparency International has put Equatorial Guinea in the top 12 of its list of most corrupt states. The authoritarian regime ruling Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights records in the world, consistently ranking among the “worst of the worst” in Freedom House’s annual survey of political and civil rights.

All this meant that I wanted to go but alas could not afford to go.

So with two weeks off I had to look for another destination. Hmmmm? Did you know that at the same time the African Cup is due to take place that the Asian Cup is on in Australia? So having survived my trip to Morocco and my feet improving and managing to get an extra two weeks off work I am off to Australia.

I didn’t have much time to plan my schedule and already I have regrets at not planning to see North Korea or Palestine (but hey, you can’t do everything…or can you?)

Don’t know much about the teams competing, and certainly don’t know many of the players, so I thought I would check out the Mangers of some of the teams.

I found that Uli Stieleke is managing South Korea. Stieleke has a place in the footballing hall of fame as he is one of only three players who has played in all 3 European Club Finals, The World Cup Final and European Championship Final. ( The other two are ex Scotland youth coach Rainer Bonhof and Manfred Kaltz – all three are German.

Managing Oman – Paul Le Guen. Sound familiar. He was in charge of Rangers, after Alex Mcleish in 2006 he presided over a disastrous domestic campaign. Om 1 January 2007 he announced that he had stripped Barry Ferguson of the Rangers captaincy and that Ferguson would not play under Le Guen again. Ferguson dod miss the game on January 2nd, but was back in the side for Rangers next game as Le Guen was sacked.

China’s manager – Alain Perrin or Reggie as he was nicknamed by Portsmouth fans during his spell there in 2005 where he managed 4 wins in 20 games before losing his job.

Iran’s manager – Carlos Queiroz, you may remember him as Alex ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United – twice. Well in addition to his spell there he has also managed Portugal, United Arab Emirates and South Africa. He agreed a 2 and a half year deal when he was appointed in April 2011, Iran gave a good show in the World Cup, you may remember them succumbing to a late Messi goal against Argentina, and his contract has been renewed. If Iran end up playing South Korea it should be worth watching as a war of words developed after a spat during which the South Koreans said that they would “make life painful” for Iran and force their captain to cry “tears of blood”. Iran won the final World Cup qualifying game between the two and Queiroz raised fist gesture saluting victory was deemed offensive by the South Koreans and almost caused a fight between the two teams.

Jordan’s manager Ray Wilkins (Butch or Uncle Festa if you like). Jordan had already qualified for the Asian Cup Finals before Wilkins was appointed on the 3rd September 2014. It is a good job they had as he has now managed them for 9 games and they have managed 3 goals and two points since he took over.

While I am over in Australia there are a few A – League games taking place so I thought I would do some homework and watch some games on BT Sport. I concentrated on the teams I intend to watch, and was interested to see some familiar faces in the Melbourne City side. Damian Duff, Robert Koren and Paddy Kisnorbo, who appears to have recovered as his head was not bandaged! Oh and a James Brown, who I guess didn’t feel so good after his team lost.

Also learnt that Frans Thijssen manages Brisbane Roar.

Listening to American commentators I find it extremely annoying with the way they try to describe the game in the style of other American sports so the Americans can understand what is happening. I have since found they are just as unhappy with the terminology we use to describe American sports.

However a 40 yard free kick thumped in at pace on target by No 25 Bosnar for Central Coast Mariners was simply described as ‘He just gives it violence’, and then watching a Melbourne Victory hit the ball hard and wide. It was described as he “butchered the ball”

These expressions I found much more palatable than the American ones you here. Although they may have their roots in Aussie Rules from what I have seen of that game.

So armed with this knowledge I am off to Australia on Sunday 11th February arriving in Sydney on the 13th in time for the Australia v Oman match that evening.

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