IT’S still almost 400 days until the 2015 AFC Asian Cup touches down in Australia – but Grant Roberts shows you how to satisfy your football appetite in the meantime with the Melbourne Asian Cup 2013.
The Melbourne Chinese Soccer Association (MSCA) and Melbourne Victory have partnered up to launch the 2013 Melbourne Asian Cup – a tournament designed to bring Asian communities together through a love of football.
Over the next three months, teams made up of the best amateur footballers from communities across Victoria will represent 16 Asian countries, with the final to be held as a Melbourne Victory curtain raiser on March 7, 2014.
The inaugural competition is being held at Darebin International Sports Centre and just completed its second round of qualifying this past weekend, with Australia, Japan, Iran and Indonesia leading the way with two straight wins.
Japan has already showcased their dominance with a 6-2 victory over Korea Republic to kick off their campaign on route to nine goals in their first two matches.
Indonesia have followed suit amassing a staggering 11 goals, yet were challenged in their last match against V United escaping with a 4-3 win.
Australia remains undefeated downing Nepal and Korea Republic in their first outings, 2-0 and 5-3 respectively.
Australia plays Japan in the next round in a match that will decide who goes a top of the group.
Both teams have already qualified for the quarter finals.
Andrew Young, secretary at MCSA, said the turnout for the opening two rounds had been spectacular, estimating almost 800 people attending the first two days.
“Games were played in carnival like atmosphere. It is great to see that spectators were out in droves to support their teams and their heroes. These loyal supporters helped their teams reach new heights,” said Young.
And with free admission to the games, Young said fans have so far seen some great matches.
“Each and every game so far was extremely competitive and to everyone’s credit, played in great spirit – hard but fair and with respect,” he said.
The final round of qualifying will take place on January 19, 2014 at the Darebin International Sports Centre to whittle the teams down to just eight for the quarterfinals.
Scores so far
Qualifying – Round One
Iran 3 – 1 India
Hong Kong 5 – 3 Afghanistan
China 1 – 0 East Timor
Indonesia 7 – 0 Thailand
Lebanon 3 – 1 V United
Zambia 3 – 2 Iraq
Japan 6 – 2 Korea Republic
Australia 2 – 0 Nepal
Qualifying – Round Two
China 2 – 2 Zambia
Afghanistan 5 – 0 India
Iran 5 – 2 Hong Kong
Iraq 5 – 1 East Timor
Indonesia 4 – 3 V United
Thailand 1 – 1 Lebanon
Australia 5 – 3 Korea Republic
Japan 3 – 0 Nepal