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Friendship and fun: what the Asian Cup means to fans

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    Japan's Tandari Lee celebrates scoring the winning goal against Australia during the AFC Asian Cup final soccer match at Khalifa Stadium, in Doha, Qatar, Saturday Jan. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung).

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    It may have passed by largely unnoticed but the Preliminary Draw for the 2015 Asian Cup reminded us that Australia will soon host a high-profile international tournament.

    The draw itself wasn’t overly significant to us as hosts but it was certainly significant to the 20 teams slotted into the five qualifying groups.

    And how Australians react to hosting the Asian Cup will go a long way to determining what kind of a football country we are.

    As far as I’m concerned we should be an open and inclusive one, as befitting our multicultural background and reputation as a friendly and welcoming society.

    I say that having experienced some of the most fun in my life as the result of the generosity and hospitality of people in Asia.

    A few years ago, I braved the bright lights of Tokyo to see American punk legends The Queers hit the stage.

    I went with an Australian friend and to say we’d had a few drinks before the show is an understatement.

    I might be a witty raconteur when I’ve had a few but even that’s not enough to aid my disgraceful Japanese language skills, so there was somewhat of an impasse when I handed our cabbie a scribbled address – in English – to get my friend and I across town.

    Not only did our cabbie tolerate our inebriated state with good humour, he stopped the meter to get directions to the – literally – underground club.

    And when it became clear neither of us had the first clue how to navigate the labyrinthine entrance, our cabbie made a point of walking us to the front door.

    I remember that show vividly not just because of the diligence and determination of our taxi driver, but also because of the club owner who let us in despite the ‘sold out’ sign on the door and the hundreds of Japanese kids who, like me, wanted nothing more than to experience some classic punk rock.

    That’s one of a myriad of examples of someone in Japan wanting me to see the best side of that country and its people.

    Likewise, when my wife and I were guests at an FC Seoul game their press officer brought us hot English tea at half-time because he thought we might be suffering the chill of a crisp autumn day in the South Korean capital.

    On a hot afternoon in Qatar a young Arab pulled over to give me a lift into the centre of town because, as he explained, my leather shoes were “too nice” to get dirty on the dusty streets of Doha.

    He didn’t want any money for the trip – he was merely being hospitable.

    It was the kind of hospitality I have experienced time and time again on my travels in Asia.

    There’s a young bloke called Tom Seungmin Lee who sometimes posts comments on these columns and who recently moved to Sydney.

    Last year at a Sydney FC game I gave his mobile number a call but he was obviously visiting friends and family back in Seoul – which is a shame because I wanted to buy him a drink.

    Why shouldn’t I? I’ve had countless numbers of fans do the same thing for me in Asia.

    When my wife visited Cambodia a few months ago it was Ben from Phnom Penh who shouted. What we all have in common is football.

    It’s this common interest which is why Australians should be excited about the Asian Cup.

    It doesn’t take much to learn more about the Asian game; a decent internet connection will suffice and we might even learn a thing or two about the region itself.

    And what I’ve learned on my trips to Asia is that we’re all the same.

    We all love football, we all love having fun and when we’re done watching our national teams in action, we should toast the Asian Cup for bringing us all together.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • October 12th 2012 @ 7:51am
      Bondy. said | October 12th 2012 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      We’re excited, in noticing the asian delegates yesterday it appeared they expected a very well run modern tournament i’ve been involved in football in some way shape or form for thirty years and have no idea how this tournament is going to pan out and thats exciting “the unknown”.

    • October 12th 2012 @ 8:48am
      mwm said | October 12th 2012 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      I hope it does go very well after the heartache of the WC bid…but don’t fool yourself we still are very much Europe/ British looking. Yes we travel to Asia, but in schools European languages still dominate, and we expect people in Asia to speak English when we communicate. Kevin Rudd was an exception rather than the norm speaking an Asian language and statistics still show that the vast majority of our migrants come from New Zealand, Britain and Ireland.

      We are still having the battle within Football itself over the English ‘route 1’ style of football and still bemoan how more people watch the EPL than attend an A league game.

      • October 13th 2012 @ 11:21am
        mahonjt said | October 13th 2012 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        Who is this “we” you speak of…. jog on. Globalisation scares you – too bad. This will be a great tourney ans Australian football is developing rapidly.

      • October 16th 2012 @ 12:31pm
        Koop said | October 16th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        I don’t know about that statement about European languages dominating in Australian schools – I think Asian languages such as Japanese are becoming more common in schools these days and there is a great variety of choice at many schools. I don’t think we expect people “in Asia” to speak English when we communicate necessarily – we expect it the world over, out of necessity due to the fact that most of us don’t speak a second language! More and more, learning a European language is becoming less favourable than an Asian one. Australia is slowly moving toward being more inclusive with Asia, and this upcoming Asian Cup is just another example of that. It takes time to implement change, and I’m very optimistic that the wheels are in motion.

    • October 12th 2012 @ 9:04am
      jamesb said | October 12th 2012 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      Just say if the sooceroos don’t make it to Brazil 2014, wouldn’t the asia cup help the socceroos get out of the doldrums.

      The point i’m trying to make is, if Australia doesn’t make it to 2014, its not the end of the world, especially when you host a huge football event in your own backyard in 2015.

      • October 12th 2012 @ 9:10am
        mwm said | October 12th 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        I think you would find if the Asia Cup isn’t on FTA then it wouldn’t seep into the conscious of the public like the World Cup does. The Socceroos would have to win it or at least make a real good showing of it but for other teams in Asia playing the Socceroos has become a bit like a giant killing experience like beating Japan…they lift for the games…much like we lift when we are playing England, Germany (last WC game aside) or Brazil.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2012 @ 3:12pm
        Griffo said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

        Hosting the event has meant we don’t have Asian Cup qualifiers to blood fringe and younger Socceroos during World Cup qualifiers this time around. I wonder how much Holger is missing extra games to try combinations and getting the tactics bedded down amongst more players that he could call on?

        We should be making the effort to win in 2015 on home soil.

        Not making Brazil (I hope we do) will mean total prep and focus on winning 2015.

        • October 12th 2012 @ 4:11pm
          Jonny G said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

          There is a chance that we might have some friendly matches during those periods where other countries have to qualify (If the groups have an odd numbered amount of teams). do other domestic comps in Asia have international breaks? Perhaps the A-League can do the same and we can use it to trial A-league players and others currently in Europe?

    • October 12th 2012 @ 9:50am
      Midfielder said | October 12th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      Mike

      Another positive article … thanks heaps … you and Tony have always been two of the writers out there who have written about the good things in football … unlike some you never quite got caught in all the doom and gloom…

      On to your article … four pages in the TerrORgraph today …. not one mention of the Asian Cup … Mike I say this in all honesty I think the writers on this site now are being studied by a number of the mainstream media … keep talking about it on this site … others will follow…I have noticed something that is talked about on this site often a few days latter appears in the mainstream press..

      Mike again thanks…

      • October 12th 2012 @ 10:02am
        Bondy. said | October 12th 2012 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        +1.

      • October 12th 2012 @ 11:46am
        Roger said | October 12th 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

        +2

      • October 16th 2012 @ 9:56am
        Aqium said | October 16th 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        + 3

    • Roar Guru

      October 12th 2012 @ 11:00am
      Ben of Phnom Penh said | October 12th 2012 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      A nice article, Mike, and it was a pleasure buying your wife and her friend a conveyor belt of beers, in a sports bar no less!

      The Asian Cup will be superb and I for one will be back to Oz for the tournament. I hope Thailand make it out of their group and I intend to get to one of their matches and hopefully an Uzbek game (assuming they make it also) to see Akhmedov in action. It is going to be fun.

    • Roar Guru

      October 12th 2012 @ 11:18am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | October 12th 2012 @ 11:18am | ! Report

      Terrific article, Mike. I loved discovering those hidden gems in Tokyo – bars, clubs, restaurants.

      The Asian Cup will be massive for football in AUS. And, it’s in summer, which means our bars, clubs & restaurants will be bursting with fans from our region.

      • October 12th 2012 @ 12:16pm
        nachos supreme said | October 12th 2012 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        Agreed.
        It’s going to be huge. Biggest event we’ve hosted since the Olympics in my book.
        Remember the lead up to them? Oh Sydney will grind to a halt,the trains won’t cope. Oh I’m going on holidays, Sydney’s too tribal to welcome the world blah blah blah.
        And the actual event? Didn’t hear too many complaints from the locals or the visitors.Even the weather came good.
        I didn’t get to Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide or Melbourne for the football (I’ll bet the experience was great) but I managed to get to the Aussie, sorry AUS NT ;), games played in Sydney and also the Spain vs Italy match. All were fantastic experiences.
        I’m really looking forward to it.

        • October 12th 2012 @ 3:02pm
          Breezy said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

          You must be forgetting the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

          • October 12th 2012 @ 3:28pm
            Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

            The Commonwealth Games? R U serious FFS?? The CG are a little get-together for also-rans watched by pensioners. The whole concept makes me laugh. I’m surprised they actually find cities willing to host them. Good lord, this has got to go at some stage surely?

            • October 13th 2012 @ 11:24am
              mahonjt said | October 13th 2012 @ 11:24am | ! Report

              Lol – so true…

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2012 @ 3:36pm
            Fussball ist unser leben said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

            “You must be forgetting the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.”

            Yup .. I’d forgotten within a week of it finishing. Commonwealth Games – a major event? Don’t make me laugh.

            It’s a chance for WASPs, like Alan Jones & John Howard to practise their bowing (or, does Alan Jones prefer to curtsey?), and reminisce about the good old days when England ruled the world.

            • October 12th 2012 @ 3:43pm
              Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

              Alan Jones – curtsey…lol

            • October 12th 2012 @ 3:48pm
              Breezy said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

              Gee what a surprise that you feel this way. I was living in the UK when they were on in Melbourne, and it seemed to be popular. Just remember that if England didn’t rule the world, then you probably wouldn’t be playing soccer.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2012 @ 4:10pm
                Fussball ist unser leben said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

                “if England didn’t rule the world, then you probably wouldn’t be playing soccer.”

                If humans have managed to send a space ship to Mars, I get the feeling by the 2012 someone would have discovered the joy of kicking a ball from one end of an arena to a specified target at the other end .. without needing the English to invade the country, plunder the riches & murder the indigenous population?

                But, maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe only the English could think of moving a ball, without using your hands.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 4:16pm
                Bondy. said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

                If England didnt rule the world “cringe “, we wouldnt be here Aus, we’d still be in Boston champ fighting the confederates.Not to keen on the old dart so much ,but they sent us here .Lol,Lol,Lol, and another Lol.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 4:32pm
                Breezy said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

                Fussball – the English would still have soccer, it probably wouldn’t have been transported to other countries like it has. They have done a great job with inventing sports. Don’t know what the rest of Europe was doing at that time, sitting around being peasants I suppose.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 4:36pm
                Nathan of Perth said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                Bondy, try as I might I just can’t figure out a suitably ocker way of saying “confederate” 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2012 @ 4:39pm
                Fussball ist unser leben said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

                “Don’t know what the rest of Europe was doing at that time, sitting around being peasants I suppose.”

                You may want to do a bit of reading about history.

                You may be amazed to discover how the Greeks, Romans, Indians, Chinese, Egyptians, Italians, Spanish etc. etc. have added more to human intellectual development – in art, science, medicine, astronomy, etc. – than the lads from Old Blighty … heck, even “Old Blighty” is derived from the Hindustani language 🙂

              • October 12th 2012 @ 4:45pm
                Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

                Well Breezy, bless your cotton socks and your Brrritish roots! The Poms could/should/would learn a lot more from those continental peasants if they got off their soap box every now and then.
                As a matter of fact they have. It’s just a few of the Queen’s subjects in the colonial outposts like you who need to catch up.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 4:47pm
                Bondy. said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

                One could suggest football/ soccer is the only thing that really took off from the English,it would surely have to be its biggest export.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 5:11pm
                Breezy said | October 12th 2012 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

                Fussball – that was a long time ago. What have they done lately. Nowadays all of those countries you mentioned are absolute dumps.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 5:18pm
                Titus said | October 12th 2012 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

                Without the English, Australia wouldn’t have Aussie Rules either.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 5:25pm
                Punter said | October 12th 2012 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

                You know guys, you can just ignore the troll!!!! It’s not worth it.

              • October 12th 2012 @ 6:20pm
                Breezy said | October 12th 2012 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

                I’m not a troll. All I did was mention that the 2006 CG has been since the 2000 Olympics, and of course the zealots can’t stand the thought that something apart from soccer might be popular.

          • October 12th 2012 @ 4:21pm
            nachos supreme said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

            How could I forget? the lawn bowls were especially riveting.

          • October 12th 2012 @ 5:10pm
            Ballymore said | October 12th 2012 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

            RWC 2003 has that covered surely.

            • October 12th 2012 @ 5:20pm
              Titus said | October 12th 2012 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

              We have a winner…..but still, don’t underestimate how big this will be.

        • October 12th 2012 @ 3:12pm
          Titus said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

          It’s debatable. I really think the Commonwealth is a dying concept and the games will become obsolete soon…..whereas the Asian Confederation is an emerging concept and these games will be hugely significant for this country.

          Also loving the Cycling from China on SBS, brilliant! Thankyou SBS, amazing landscapes.

          • October 12th 2012 @ 3:20pm
            Breezy said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

            I agree that it might be a dying concept, though Gold Coast seem to be very gung-ho about hosting it in 2018. In decades to come the Asian Cup might be a big deal, but I think the fact that FTA stations are not desperate to get it means that it will probably hold little interest for the average Aussie.

            • October 12th 2012 @ 3:35pm
              Bondy. said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

              The A League nowadays gets some good coverage “could be better of course” most people know what it is even though not being on fta .It could possibly illustrate how much those fta’s hate the sport not to want to pick it up”asian cup” ,I notice other sports trying to be national and or international but sadly lack any depth of national charecter though.

          • October 12th 2012 @ 3:34pm
            Titus said | October 12th 2012 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

            While there is still money in the CG’s, people will make a big deal of it. My memory of Melbourne was a great opening ceremony and spirit but the competition itself was extremeley underwhelming, Delhi was even more underwhelming.

            I agree that the Asian Cup probably won’t get the level of attention it deserves in this country and lack of FTA coverage would play a big part in that, but that doesn’t take away from the significance of the event in the region and the interest it will generate amongst football fans in the region(Association fans that is, but hopefully all football fans)

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