Vietnam 2 United Arab Emirates 0
Japan 1 Qatar 1
First sensations of the cup. Qatar's former Uruguayan striker Sebastian Quintana turns out to be a dead ball wizard. Two steps and bang. His first sailed just over the bar. His second in the 88 minute beat the Japanese goal keeper with a deflection. Minutes later Qatar star Hussain Yasser was sent from the field for studs up challenge just off the ball. Boots the ball into the stands in anger and draws his coach, former Bosnian great, Dzemaludin Musovic into the argument - Musovic was then sent by Breeze to the stands. But this was enough time wasting to eat the 3 minutes extra and dash the Japanese hopes - whose 61st minute tap in by Naohiro Takahara from a left side cross - was leveled out.
Cold climate players and even dry heat players are going to struggle in this cup. One humidity acclimatised mid range star is clearly worth 3 or 4 heat drained super stars.
Australia's Matthew Breeze refing Japan v Qatar. I like Breeze's style. Unlike other A-League refs, he doesn't listen to players and calls it as he sees it. He seems to be going well. As are the players from hot dry Qatar against the slowing Japanese. Both teams building up slowly from the back. Japan's wide play, so far is ineffectual, and they are forced to shoot from too far out.
The way forward for Australia is clear. Forget a few weeks in Singapore. It is unrealistic to think that that will help a player who has just played 40 plus games in the cold. The blood thickens in cold climates and takes months to thin out. Spending millions on prep-ing is a foolish waste - the heat drains their skills. No not that. The answer for this cup is to play Archie Thompson and Nicky Carle, even Milligan and perhaps risk Burns with his under 23 heat experience.
Adjusting to humidity takes at least a season, probably a year or longer. The FFA should research effects on people who have moved from Melbourne to Brisbane, and further to Cairns and Darwin. Perhaps some specialist football migration research. And this is our answer, our advantage. We have had first class players from the tropics Frank Farina and Clint Bolton among others.
The A-League needs teams based in North Queensland and Darwin. Players in the A-League that excel in these conditions should be selected for tough away Asia matches. FFA invest in this.
At the moment we look like a navy sending in an aircraft carrier to fight a battle in a one metre deep river delta with many branches and back waters with little room to twist and turn. Don't worry about big European based bodies and fire power - all we are doing is risking their brand and reputation in the big Asian markets. Let's play the guys who may thrive on the heat and opportunity!