Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Football Fever: 2006 Women's Asian Cup

I have to admit that watching the Socceroos, Australia's National Football team, in the World Cup gave me a whole new appreciation for soccer. So when I learned that the AFC Women's Asian Cup was to be held in Adelaide, I didn't hesitate and got the family tickets to watch the opening games down at Adelaide's Hindmarsh Stadium. The Australian Women's football team, the Matildas were making their debut in the Asian Football Confederation and were slated to face South Korea to what promised to be a good match up.

Tickets were dirt cheap and whether because soccer ( or football ) is not popular Down Under or because it's a women's match I don't know. Although, at only $5 a ticket for free seating ( and kids under 12 free ) I wasn't about to complain. When I told the kids we were going to see the Matildas play, our girl could hardly contain herself. She was so excited that all week she was counting down the days to the match. She even made up her own sign to wave during the game.

As game day arrived, the forecast called for for cold and rain so we made sure the kids were all bundled up before we went to see the game. After a couple of wrong turns we got to the stadium in the middle of the first match between Myanmar and Thailand. The stadium was largely empty and we found seats next to the pitch and tried to settle in. Thailand handily beat Myanmar 2 to 1 on the opening game and as the Matildas and the Korean team warmed up on the grounds, we moved higher up in the stands to get a better view. As the second game between Australia and Korea was starting up, the people started streaming in as well.

The crowd was already getting excited and were already shouting out the old Aussie cheers. There was a vocal group of Korean supporters complete with drums but the Aussie cheering section wasn't half bad as they belted out the old "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi Oi". Watching a live soccer match in Australia for the first time, I found the atmosphere to be fantastic. The crowd was a bit sedate at first but soon got into the game. The supporters were slowly getting behind the teams despite the cold and I can see our kids getting into it as well. Sure it's not the World Cup but as the Australian National Anthem played and the whole stadium began to sing I can't help but feel what it must have felt like for all those Australians who watched the Socceroos play in Germany.

As the game got underway, so did the rain. The seats where we were was exposed so we decided to move even higher in the stands where there was at least a roof. So we climbed a few flights of stairs all the way up to the top deck. It was a way up but we had a full view of the field and got up there just in time to see Korea opening up the scoring with an own goal! It was an exciting first half and Australia dominated play with several shots on goal and when the second half started, they still continued the pressure. The kids were cheering their hearts out cheering "Go Matildas!" ( the boy shouts, "Go Ma-ta-tildas!" ) every chance they could.

It was getting colder already and after the Matildas broke the Korean defense with a second brilliant goal about about 10 minutes into the second half, we decided to go home before the cold gets the better of us and the kids. I also figured as well that at 2 nil, the Koreans probably won't be able to get back in the game. So despite the Aussie team ahead, we had to shout our last cheers and find our way outside to the car.

We stopped for dinner in Chinatown and as we got home, we found out on the news that Australia rolled over Korea 4 to 0. That's a promising start to the Asian Cup.


The Matildas beat Myanmar yesterday 2 - 0. However, North Korea began their campaign with a 9 - 0 demolition of Thailand. I think the North Korea / Australia match this Saturday would be a great one to watch.

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