Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Asia Shift, Part 1
More on that idea soon, but first, a small point about one statement from the Socceroo midfielder:
“When we have to play a weekend in Italy and play here on the Wednesday, you are going to be travelling most of the week. It will be a big issue for most of the clubs.”
No doubt, but the majority of midweek games will probably be the second match of an international double-header. FIFA have, sensibly, ensured that these are all Saturday-Wednesday, rather than Wednesday-Saturday, affairs, giving international teams four or five days to get together and prepare after weekend club commitments. Hence, Bresciano will not often have to play for Palermo on the Sunday and Australia on the following Wednesday.
Nevertheless, some Asian qualifiers may be held on friendly dates rather than full international dates, as our home qualifier against Kuwait in August was. So the scenario outlined by Bresciano may be realised from time to time.
Next, an unnecessarily alarmist prognosis from David Lewis in the Daily Telegraph. He states, inter alia:
“Australia's bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup could be over before it begins if the Socceroos are forced to follow a horror schedule of matches drawn up by the Asian Football Confederation.
Football Federation Australia is so concerned at a 12-game fixture list for 2008 and 2009 – including the logistical nightmare of eight midweek dates – that it is poised to deploy chairman Frank Lowy to lobby the AFC for a calendar rethink.”
Now, further to the excuses-in-advance tenor of the phrase in bold, the implication seems to be that the AFC has blithely ignored the usual FIFA conventions regarding international dates. Although I have recently acknowledged that the AFC are not always helpful in their scheduling, the fact is that the late 2008-2009 period contains seven full international midweek dates (see here).
That means that the other confederations will, presumably, be scheduling international fixtures on seven of those same eight “logistically nightmarish” midweek dates. Asia is not exactly a rogue confederation in this regard; they do take liberties with the FIFA calendar, but not outrageous ones. And again, let’s not forget: all of these seven are part of international double-headers, and will not immediately follow a club weekend. The logistical challenge is, in my opinion, somewhat over-estimated.
So, what of the roster plan?
In Part 2, I will explain why I think it should be consigned to the bin.
Great article Mikey!
Why do I feel that we have the talent and, at the end of the day, the success of the Socceroos will be defined by how much the FFA supports them?
In the piece I'm going to put up in just a moment, I'll explain why I'm against it, but in relation to the above, I think the Italian situation is different. They were in a relatively straightforward European qualifying group (given the depth of Italian football), and Lippi could AFFORD to chop and change in the qualifiers a bit. I seriously believe, particularly with all the difficulties of acclimatisation first time in Asia, etc., that we can't afford too many stuff-ups (if any), even in the first stage. Also, not to denigrate our players, but Australia's strength in depth is not the same as Italy's.