Ange urges Australia to unite for the Asian Cup

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has called for Australians to come together ahead of Australia’s biggest ever football event, AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has called for Australians to come together in a united national effort one year ahead of Australia-s biggest ever football event, AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.

As the count-down began on the final year of preparations, Postecoglou called on Australians to unite behind the Socceroos as well as the nation-s efforts to deliver a world class event.

“The Socceroos are the people-s team, and the Asian Cup is the people-s tournament,” he said.

“This is a chance for Australia to shine on and off the field.

“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.”

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

“At this time next year the Asian Cup will be in full swing as the Socceroos kick off the tournament in Melbourne,” Mr Brown said.

“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.

“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 LOC today launched a brand new website at www.afcasiancup.com and also hosted a One Year to Go event in Melbourne-s Federation Square, where young footballers from 16 Asian nations took part in mini-games on a synthetic pitch with the silverware of the AFC Asian Cup trophy on display.

Socceroos captain Lucas Neill, who is the Asian Cup-s captain ambassador, said the event brought home the reality of Australia hosting its biggest football championship.

“The prospect of playing in such a massive tournament, in our own backyard, in front of our families and friends, is a tremendous driving force,” Neill said.

The Socceroos bowed out at the quarter-final stage of the Asian Cup in 2007, and were pipped by an extra time goal in the 2011 final, losing out both times to Japan.

“This would be the perfect time to go one better, at the height of an Australian summer on home soil,” Neill said.

The Asian Cup will take place from January 9-31, 2015, in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle.

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.

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