Thursday, May 18, 2006

Australia may make late bid for 2011 Asian Cup

Football Federation Australia is considering lodging a late bid to stage the 2011 Asian Cup as part of an ambitious plan to host the FIFA World Cup finals in 2018 or 2022. "We are very ambitious to host major events," FFA chief executive officer John O'Neill said. "What we've got to do is establish our credentials so that we can put our hand up to host the World Cup." Australia is in the qualifying phase for next year's Asian Cup for the first time after leaving Oceania to join the Asian Football Confederation. It had previously floated the idea of co-hosting the 2018 World Cup with New Zealand but the decision to leave the OFC made the bid unworkable so it opted to go it alone. "We would be very keen to give it a crack in 2018, and if that doesn't work to put a stake in the ground for 2022," O'Neill said, as quoted by Reuters. "The World Cup has been to America and Asia, and now it's going to Africa (2010). The only area of the world that has missed out is the Pacific."

The Asian Cup is held every four years. Next year's tournament will be co-staged by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The host for the 2011 Asian Cup is expected to be announced next year. Only India and Iran have submitted formal bids. "We haven't received anything from Australia," an AFC official told Reuters.

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