Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tasmania deserves an Asian Cup match

It's about time Tasmania was given a competitive Socceroos international match.

The Socceroos have only played here once, and that was a friendly against Tasmania in the early 1980s.

We recently gained kudos for the performance of our under-21s against A-League youth teams, and attendances at the pre-season A-League cup matches in Launceston have always been respectable.

Well, guess what? The venues for Australia's Asian Cup qualifiers against Oman on 14 November this year, and the return leg against Indonesia scheduled for 3 March next year, have not yet been decided.

Canberra will host the Australia versus Kuwait match on 5 March this year. Darwin and northern Queensland have often been touted as future venues for Socceroos matches.

I think Football Federation Tasmania should be lobbying hard for Football Federation Australia to stage the match against Oman, or the one against Indonesia, in either Launceston or Hobart.

It would be a marvellous reward for Tasmania's efforts to promote soccer, and appropriate recognition of our current standing in the game nationally.

I don't think it would cost FFT anything as these are national team games and are the responsibility of FFA.

The time to lobby is now, while there is still time.

* * * * * *

While on the subject of the Socceroos, tomorrow night's (Wednesday) game against Indonesia at the Gelong Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta should be a fascinating showdown.

Australia will be fielding a second-string eleven, made up entirely of home-based players from the A-League.

Let's hope we don't come unstuck and that some of our inexperienced representatives don't wilt before an expected vociferous home crowd of 90,000.

With the day not being a scheduled FIFA match day, Australia did not have its overseas players available, so there was little choice but to blood the best of the A-League crop.

Only six of the squad have previously been capped, so it will be a huge learning curve for some of the players and one which will stand them in good stead in the years to come.

The squad is: Danny Allsopp (Melbourne Victory), Billy Celeski (Melbourne Victory), Shannon Cole (Sydney FC), Robert Cornthwaite (Adelaide United), Tarek Elrich (Newcastle Jets), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Dean Heffernan (Central Coast Mariners), Scott Jamieson (Adelaide United), Dylan McCallister (Central Coast Mariners), Matthew McKay (Queensland Roar), Craig Moore (Queensland Roar), Tom Pondeljak (Melbourne Victory), Paul Reid (Adelaide United), Matt Simon (Central Coast Mariners), Michael Theoklitos (Melbourne Victory), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Matthew Thompson (Newcastle Jets), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Perth Glory), Rodrigo Vargas (Melbourne Victory), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar)

But, some of the squad have also played for their clubs in Asian Champions League matches and should know what to expect.

I think the squad is good enough to win, providing the players don't underestimate the opponents and the conditions.

Moore has 40 caps for Australia and has played in Europe, of course, while Archie Thompson has 30 caps.

The other internationals are Allsopp (2 caps), McKay (1 cap), Pondeljak (4 caps) and Topor-Stanley (3 caps).

* * * * *

Let's not forget the Matildas.

The Australian women's team will play Italy in Parramatta on Saturday, 31 January, and again in Canberra on Saturday, 7 February.

The Matildas squad is: Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne Victory), Danielle Brogan (Sydney FC), Ellie Brush (Canberra United), Tameka Butt (Queensland Roar), Lauren Colthorpe (Queensland Roar), Lisa de Vanna (Perth Glory), Heather Garriock (Sydney FC), Katie Gill (Newcastle Jets), Lana Harch (Queensland Roar), Elsie Kellond-Knight (Queensland Roar), Collette McCallum (Perth GLory), Kate McShea (Queensland Roar), Caitlin Munoz (Canberra United), Amber Neilson (Newcastle Jets), Jo Peters (Newcastle Jets), Clare Polkinghorne (Queensland Roar), Karla Reuter (Queensland Roar), Cheryl Salisbury (Newcastle Jets), Emily van Egmond (Newcastle Jets), Sarah Walsh (Sydney FC), Lydia Williams (Canberra United).

* * * * *

FFA have appointed Gary Power as the National Elite Referees Instructor.

He will report to Mario van der Ende, the National Referee Technical Director.

Power has been the Referees' Expert for the Qatar Football Association for the past three years.

Power's achievements and previous position is another example of the career paths available for Australian referees now that we are part of the Asian Confederation.

It should serve as an inspiration to our young up-and-coming Tasmanian referees who literally have Asia, and indeed the world, at their feet.

They need to be recognised nationally, however, and this is an area that FFT must address. Our most promising referees must get the chance to referee interstate so that they can catch the eye.

Tasmania has had one FIFA referee in the past - Jack Johnston.

It's high time we had another.

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