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Football: Australia celebrates one-year countdown to AFC Asian Cup

Socceroos captain Lucas Neill (white shirt) and Australia coach Ange Postecoglou (grey shirt) joined kids in Melbourne’s Federation Square on Thursday to celebrate ‘One Year To Go’ until the 16-team AFC Asian Cup, which will be held in five cities across Australia.

Socceroos captain Lucas Neill (white shirt) and Australia coach Ange Postecoglou (grey shirt) joined kids in Melbourne’s Federation Square to mark ‘One Year To Go’ until the AFC Asian Cup, which will be held in five cities across Australia.

January 10, 2014: Australia coach Ange Postecoglou, Socceroos captain Lucas Neill and the Asian Cup trophy were the star attractions in Melbourne’s Federation Square on Thursday as the country hosted a variety of events marking the one-year countdown to the AFC Asian Cup in January 2015.

 

The ‘One Year To Go’ event in Federation Square featured young footballers with heritage from throughout Asia taking part in mini-games with the trophy on display.

 

Postecoglou, 48, called for Australians to support both the national team and the 16-team Asian Cup, which will be held across five cities from January 9-31, 2015.

 

“The Socceroos are the people’s team and the AFC Asian Cup is the people’s tournament. This is a chance for Australia to shine on and off the field,” said the Greece-born coach, who won four caps for Australia and took charge of the Socceroos in October.

 

“We are one of the most multicultural nations on earth and for the first time we are hosting the top 16 teams in the world’s biggest region. First we have the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, then six months later we host the AFC Asian Cup. Australian football has never known a time quite as exciting as this.”

 

Lucas Neill and Michael Brown (right) with the Asian Cup trophy.

Lucas Neill and Michael Brown (right), CEO of the AFC Asian Cup Local Organising Committee.

Michael Brown, CEO of the Local Organising Committee, said the tournament was the biggest single-sport event in Asia.

 

“At this time next year, the AFC Asian Cup will be in full swing as the Socceroos kick off the tournament in Melbourne. We want to give the warmest of welcomes to all of Asia’s top teams and deliver a tournament that celebrates Asia’s rich football culture,” Brown said.

 

“It will be a summer festival of football never to forget – 32 matches in 23 days across our five host cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle. And we want all Australians, no matter their heritage, to unite for the Asian Cup and give our visitors a uniquely Australian welcome and a fantastic Australian experience.”

 

The tournament’s official website – www.afcasiancup.com – was also launched on Thursday as preparation ramps up for the tournament, which concludes with the final in Sydney’s Stadium Australia.

 

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, President of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation), said: “As the finals of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 grow ever closer, the excitement within the Asian football family is increasing by the day. Today we celebrate not only entering the final phase of preparations but also the launch of the tournament’s official website.

 

“The history of the AFC Asian Cup brims over with fantastic feats achieved by the continent’s finest since the inaugural tournament back in 1956 and Australia 2015 will surely add another thrilling chapter. I’m confident through the efforts of our hosts, Australia, and the talent of our leading players and teams, we will witness a world-class event that is sure to rival, if not surpass, all previous editions.”

 

Twelve nations have already qualified – Australia as hosts, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with recent qualifiers Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

 

A further four spots are at stake, one in the AFC Challenge Cup and a further three via the qualifiers which will culminate next March prior to the draw. The draw for the tournament will take place at the Sydney Opera House on March 26.

 

For more information, visit: www.afcasiancup.com

 

Source: The AFC

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