I’ve been extremely lucky enough to witness some unforgettable moments in Australian footballing history.
John Aloisi’s penalty kick that sent Australia into the 2006 World Cup after 32 years.
Harry Kewell’s equaliser that sent Australia into the Round of 16 in Germany.
Tim Cahill’s wonder-goal in Brazil in 2014.
Witnessing Australia play against Kuwait in the opening game of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Melbourne tonight will be no different.
After farcically missing out on the chance to host a World Cup, Australians should be very proud and excited about playing host to Asia, a region which represents well-over half of the world’s population. I definitely am!
Australia is, and always will be, a pivotal part of Asia. Many Australians have an affinity to the region; I lived in Singapore for five years when I was a young boy, and the vibrant memories that I have of another island nation will never be forgotten.
To host 15 other Asian nations because of the Beautiful Game will be awesome.
As I make the short journey from my residence in Richmond to AAMI Park on Friday night, I’ll be grateful that I won’t have to travel the thousands of costly kilometres to see my national team in action as I had to do when visiting two vastly different continents of Europe (2006 World Cup in Germany) and South America (2014 World Cup in Brazil).
Melbourne will also host a myriad of other Asian Cup games and I will even be excited to witness Japan play Jordan on January 20.
But Japan and Australia is the biggest footballing rivalry in Asia. Who could forget Australia’s first-ever win in a World Cup against the Blue Samurai in Kaiserslautern? Or Japan’s victory over Australia in the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar? I definitely won’t!
The 16th edition of the AFC Asian Cup will be another page-turning chapter in a thrilling tale between the two great countries. The tournament will also encourage me to learn about nations I admittedly know little about, like Jordan (who’ll be my second team). Before I attend the game against Japan, I will make sure I learn a bit about the nation, including its footballing past. I also hope to meet some of its fans in a pub in Richmond after the game and taste a bit of their culture.
Whatever happens on Friday night, no matter what the result, I know it’ll be another unforgettable experience.
- Ryan Fritz, lifelong football fan and One Goal supporter cheering on the Socceroos at AC2015
Richmond VIC Australia
9-31 January, see the tournament through the eyes of One Goal.