Asian FC pleased with Australia's World Cup rise

Football Federation Australia chief executive John O'Neill is excited about how the outcome of this World Cup will improve Australia's standing in Asia. He said Asian Football Confederation delegates "are all saying this is exactly why we wanted Australia because we are a strong team. The AFC have been very positive in promoting the fact that Asia has five teams in Germany and we are one of them. Ultimately, Asia wants more places in the World Cup [the AFC now has 4½ spots)] and performances like this will help the cause. As for the seedings, there are real, concrete benefits for us. When we went into Asia on January 1, we had a FIFA ranking, but not an Asian one. That's why we have gone into the (2007) Asian Cup qualifiers as an unseeded team. But this result should mean we will be ranked one or two in whatever (World Cup) pool we end up in."

According to Michael Cockerill in The Age (Melbourne), Australia's successful start to the World Cup also adds momentum to recent proposals for an annual tri-nations tournament involving Australia, Japan and South Korea, a concept that could expand to include North Korea and China. "It's early days, but we had some discussions in Munich last week about this, and there's a general enthusiasm to explore the possibilities," O'Neill told him. "But it's all about finding enough FIFA (international) dates."

Even before Australia's 3-1 victory over Japan FC president Mohamed bin Hammam told The Associated Press that he knew the match would have a dramatic impact on the continent, regardless of the result. He views Australia as a crucial contributor in the development of the sport in Asia gives the AFC an additional candidate-host for football's quadrennial championship. "I think 2018 will be the right time for us to rehost the World Cup," Hammam said. "We have so many candidates: China, Australia - they're very ready - we have India if they want to accept the challenge. These are the three major markets for 2018."

Hammam has no problem promoting Asia's newest member federation for such a major event. "Australia as a continent is enjoying a very strong economy. The infrastructure there wouldn't require much investment," he said as reported by Mainichi MSN (Japan). "The governments always support the big events like World Cup - I believe Australia would host a very good World Cup. If Asia has the best market and the best candidates, why can't it be elected," Hammam said. "I would like to see the competition between Asia and Europe, or CONCACAF - we have to give the world the best World Cup to keeping enhancing the image."

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