Asian Football Trivia - Round Seven
Kuala Lumpur: And we’re back! After taking a well-deserved week’s break to recharge the batteries, Asian Football Trivia returns to answer three more posers, with this week’s topic being ‘new beginnings’.
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Kicking things off this week is Aaron, thanks for your question. Previously part of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), Australia believed the best way for them to progress was to, if accepted, join the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
In March 2005, the AFC invited the Socceroos to become a member of their Confederation, a move that was approved by FIFA three months later and would officially come into effect on January 1, 2006.
Australia’s first competitive match as an AFC member nation came a month later when, on February 22, Guus Hiddink’s team ran out 3-1 winners over Bahrain in their first qualification game for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.
But the Socceroos did not have it all their own way in Manama, where they trailed 1-0 at the interval. Second-half goals from Archie Thompson, Josip Skoko and Ahmad Elrich, though, ensured three points for the visitors on their first AFC outing.
Australia then advanced to the quarter-finals of the continental competition in Southeast Asia before a penalty shootout reversal to Japan, who also defeated the Socceroos in the final of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.
But, four years later on home soil, Ange Postecoglou’s team would be crowned champions of Asia – just nine years after joining the AFC – as James Troisi’s extra-time goal secured a 2-1 victory over Korea Republic in the final.
Australia win the 2015 AFC Asian Cup
Thank you for asking, Leo, and we hope you will be pleasantly surprised by our answer. After being formed in 1954, the first AFC Asian Cup – hosted by Hong Kong in 1956 – featured just four teams and was won by Korea Republic.
The competition has gradually increased its participants and has featured 16 teams ever since the 2004 edition in China, when Japan were crowned continental champions. The 2015 tournament in Australia, won by the hosts, was the fourth successive time that 16 nations had participated in Asia’s most prestigious competition.
However, in order to raise the level of the game across the continent and give other Asian Football Confederation members the chance to compete at the highest level, the AFC has indeed increased its numbers to 24 for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
The exciting initiative means fans across the continent can likely look forward to seeing several debutants joining Asia’s big guns in less than 18 months’ time.
Twelve teams have already booked their place in the competition, while the qualification process to see who will join them is now well underway.
Thanks for your incredibly timely question, Prathmesh. About to begin its fourth season, the Indian Super League has featured stars such as Robert Pires, Roberto Carlos, David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero since its inception. It has, though, never previously fallen under the Asian Football Confederation banner.
However, following a recommendation from the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the AFC Competitions Committee recently stated that the winner of the 2017-18 ISL will, for the first time, be granted entry into the AFC Cup preliminary stage.
The upcoming ISL will feature the same eight teams from the previous three years with the addition of Indian giants JSW Bengaluru and the recently formed Jamshedpur FC, meaning Sunil Chhetri will take to the stage with The Blues for the first time having previously represented Mumbai City.
The I-League champions, meanwhile, will still be entered into the AFC Champions League Play-off round as India continues its quest for a first appearance in the continent’s biggest club competition.
Check out our previous editions of Asian Football Trivia: