Asian Cup the Pleasant Surprise Posted on 24 Jan 19:27 , 0 comments

We all know how big the World Cup is and of course we know that Football is considered the World Game.

However I have to admit heading into the Asian Cup, I wasn't really sure what to expect or how Australian crowds would react to the tournament.

It is fairly easy to say as we head into the semi-finals that the Asian Cup has turned out to be a pleasant surprise. From crowds packing stadiums to the standard of the game on the field, the tournament has delivered in spades both on and off the park.

Know doubt at the start of the event most people likely had an Australia v Japan final penciled in.  This was despite Australia's seemingly lowly ranking heading into the tournament. 

However that low FIFA ranking failed to take into account just what coach Ange Postecoglou was doing in the warm up games.  Yes the results had looked bad, but the coach was determined to run through his squad to see who did and didn't have it at International level.

It is easy to forget that despite how big the Asian Cup is, Postecoglou also has to have an eye on the next World Cup and given the age of some of the squad in Brazil, he clearly needs to bring through the next generation.

So that meant in the short term that some results might have to be sacrificed and with it a slide down the rankings.

That was it should be noted not without its own peril.  Those rannkings also form the basis of the draw for the next round of qualifiers for the World Cup.  So had Australia had a bad tournament here, it could have drawn a hard qualifying group for Russia 2018. 

As it stand sit seems making the semi-final if not the final, will see the Socceroos jump in the ranking and into some safer territory.

However back to what this blog post is about the Asian Cup.  Australian fans have once again shown that if you gives us quality sport we will turn up in numbers, even if our own team is not involved. 

In fact those Australians who ventured out in Canberra to the Iran v Iraq quarter final, saw a game that will live with them for a very long time.  I would go so far to say that for some it will likely have been one of the best sporting contests they have seen.  Unless of course they are old enough to have seen Raiders when they were a powerhouse of the NRL.

So it is onto the Semi-finals, where Australia will line up against the UAE fresh from their giant slaying act on Japan.  

Could 2015 be the year the Socceroos add some much needed silverware to the trophy cabinet?  You would have to saw with Japan out, we may never have a better chance.