Play-offs for Australia

The A-League 2010-11 season has reached the Finals.  Brisbane Roars already booked a place to next year’s AFC Champions League by winning the regular season with astonishing 60% win rate and only one loss. The Roars are joined by Central Coast, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Melbourne Victory, and Wellington. Defending champions Sydney avoided the dearth of wooden spoon, but still ranked on the 9th position, one point worse than debutant Melbourne Heart.

Unlike the Korean system where the season leaders wait in the final, Brisbane will meet runner up Central Coast beginning this Friday. The losers will wait for the winners of playoffs between the other four, before setting up with the top two’s semi final winners in the Grand Final in March. While Brisbane rely on the duo of Jean Carlos Solorzano and Kosta Barbarouses, with some help from German Thomas Broich, Central Coast relies on the most productive local player Matt Simon.

Continental football being weird, again

UAE is located in East Asia. At least according to AFC Champions League, which will pit UAE’s Al-Ain with Indonesia’s Sriwijaya FC for the last East Asian slot. While the last AFF Suzuki Cup was a month-long 8 nations tournament, now the supposedly big cup is a hurried affair. When Sriwijaya tied 1-1 with Thai champions Muangthong United in Palembang, Indonesia, the match went on to extra time, where both teams scored, then to penalties shoot out, and to sudden death penalties shoot out, where Sriwijaya prevailed (and where goalkeeper Ferry Rotinsulu proved that he deserved better in the national team). In Europe and South America they would have gone home and away – but not here. Not with budget airlines, not with both teams located in Southeast Asia.

And the hard-earned victory only gave Sriwijaya the rights to host the Gulf team, who supposedly replaced the Vietnam representative. Really? Can’t Sriwijaya and Muangthong just play home and away to fight for the spot ? Or add an Australian team? Isn’t UAE overrepresented with three teams in the Western conference? Is there another better explanation than Arab Money? Even if Al Ain loses, and they better be to ensure the balance between West and East Asia, they will go to the East Asia bloc of the AFC Cup. Out of eight groups, only three are allocated for East. Indian allegiance is ‘flexible’ – in Champions League they are West Asia, in the Cup they are East.

Which brings us to East Asia’s own flaws. Indonesia’s league, bad as it seems, is still not as bad as other leagues in administration and in quality. It just gets worse beyond East Asia – Hong Kong. What else? Maldives? Nepal? We’re out of countries here. Taiwan doesn’t have a pro league. Is everything bad with Thai league has to do with its political situation?

A quick remedy is for East Asian representatives in the AFC Cup to reach for the finals.  They should have taken themselves, and the competition, more seriously. Simply put, West Asia have shown some Asian Vision – that they are continental clubs. South East Asia+HK better do the same.

Roundup for August 2010 first week

Happy news:

South Korea win the 3rd match playoff for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, defeating Colombia 1-0 through fantastic-sista Ji So-Yun. During the tournament in Germany, the Republic has defeated Switzerland 4-0, Ghana 4-2, and lost to United States 0-1. In the playoff rounds they won over Mexico 3-1 before going down to Germany 1-5 in the Semi.

If there had been an all-star team, 8-goals scoring Ji would have been there to support German bomber Alexandra Popp, who scored ten goals including one in the 2-0 final victory against Nigeria. Add that with Yani Tseng’s perseverance to win the British Open and it was a good weekend for Asian sports.

Bittersweet news:

Sriwijaya FC of Palembang, South Sumatera, win the Indonesian Cup three years in a row, defeating league champions Arema Indonesia (from Malang, East Java) 2-1 in Solo, Central Java. The match was disturbed by the intervention from the Central Java’s police chief who stepped in and asked the referee to be replaced.

The reason was red card for Singaporean Noh Alam Shah (Arema) for kicking his compatriot Precious Emuejeraye (Sriwijaya) on the head. Arema supporters who crowded the stadium began to create trouble and the cop thought that it was the ref’s fault – he should have left Alam Shah alone. He was quoted to say “The FA guys can go home to Jakarta after this match. But the city’s security is up to me,”

In the end, referee Jimmy Napitapulu led the game until the end and both managers think that the chief was an ass (I use Commonwealth English here. Honestly). There was no riot in Solo, only Arema supporters throwing rocks randomly along the tracks on their train ride home.

Depends-how-you-see-it news:

Barcelona will face K-League All Stars on Wednesday’s late night in Seoul (10 pm local time, 1 pm in Barcelona). The iPod of Football will feature Messi, Ibrahimovic, Alex Hleb, and Kader Keita. The Spaniards Xavi and Iniesta are on holiday somewhere else. Facing them are Kim Dong-Jin (Ulsan), Ku Ja-Cheol (Jeju), Eninho (Jeonbuk), and Molina (Seongnam).

Bad news no matter how you see it:

The Sun says that North Korean coach Kim Jong-Hun is expelled from Communist/Workers’/Socialist/Whatever Party and is sentenced to 14 hours-a-day labor work for betraying the trust of Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il Kim Jong-Un. Nobody punished Papa Kim for the idiocy of letting Portugal vs Korea DPR match be broadcasted live on TV. Jong Tae-Se has the good chance, everyday, to slip to the nearest Japanese or South Korean consulate from Bochum.

Footballers in UAE (for examples Lee Ho, David O’Leary, and of course Cannavaro) can kiss their BlackBerry goodbye since the country bans BB for its ‘capability to communicate directly with overseas servers’. There is, however, no such ban on iPhone or Samsung.

Leagues leaders:

Japan – Kashima Antlers defeats Vissel Kobe decisively with a double from midfielder Takuya Nozawa. On Sunday Shimizu slugged it out 6-3 with Shonan Bellmare. Frode Johnsen scored a hattrick for Shimizu, putting him at the third on the top scorers list. Josh Kennedy maintained the lead with a goal in Nagoya 2-0 victory over Yokohama.

Korea – The second semester is getting trickier for Jeju United, as mainland powerhouses FC Seoul and Jeonbuk have overtaken them. Dejan Damjanovic of Seoul hit them with two goals on Saturday and Jeju suffered its second lost for the season. Jeonbuk defeated Busan 2-1 at the cost of red card for Lee Dong-Gook. Top scorer Yoo Byung-Soo (Incheon) got another goal despite his team’s 2-3 loss against Gyeongnam.

China – Shanghai gets closer to table leader Shandong, which were defeated by Hangzhou 1-2. Colombian Dubier Riascos maintains his top scorer lead by hitting all the goals in Shanghai 2-1 win over Changsha.

Singapore – Tampines speeds ahead of Etoile with 2-0 win over the Armed Forces (Alex Duric and Khairul Amri). Now they are nine points apart, but the French will face Woodlands Wellingtons on Wednesday.