Friday, April 18, 2008
Intercontinental Cup - a 10-day spectacle
The Intercontinental Cup next month is set to be a dress rehearsal for three nations bound for the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.
Nigeria, the 1996 gold medallists, Argentina, 2004 winners and Australia are among eight nations for the Cup which was launched at the Palace of Golden Horses this evening.
I personally would love to see the stars of the 2010 World Cup, here, in the flesh, before the rest of the world do so.
Some of them are already familiar to us, namely Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero but I don't think coach Sergio Batista, who was a water carrier in the 1986 World Cup winning squad, has the luxury of picking his European-based stars.
Watch out for Nigeria, who are coached by their 1994 World Cup left flanker, Samson Siasia. Let's see whether they have what it takes to be a Samson among the giants.
This is from the FAM website, www.fam.org.my
KUALA LUMPUR (April 18, 2008) - A new football tournament that brings together a mixed pot of talent from the various continents comes into being next month.
Called the invitational Intercontinental Cup to be staged in Kuala Lumpur on May 15-25, the eight-nation tournament promises to be a 10-day football spectacle, featuring the stars of tomorrow, today.
Born of an intense passion and love for the game, the Cup is an avenue for teams bound for the Beijing Olympics to fine-tune their preparations.
In Olympic terms, Argentina, Nigeria and Australia are footballing giants who stand an equal chance of mounting the podium in Beijing.
The world would then be watching the Intercontinental Cup with bated breath. Co-incidentally the draw of the Olympic Games will beheld on Sunday, just two days after today’s launch.
Today Argentina were drawn in Group B of the Intercontinental Cup with the likes of Croatia, Ghana and Australia, certainly the Group of death for the inaugural event. Hosts Malaysia will do battle with Iraq, Rep of Ireland and Nigeria in Group A.
The Intercontinental Cup is promoted and financed by renowned player in the global stage, Octagon, with the co-operation of FA of Malaysia as the organisers.
Octagon UK head of football Phil Carling said he was happy to organise a tournament in Kuala Lumpur considering the nation’s passion and devotion for the game.
“The game of football transcends ethnic, linguistic, social and economic boundaries. Its greatest asset is its simplicity and its language instantly understood anywhere.
“We hope by having this tournament here, it will add to the momentum of making Malaysia and Asia the developmental focus of the next millennium,” said Carling.
FA of Malaysia general secretary Lt Jen (Rtd) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad believed Malaysia has the infrastructure, the facilities and the human capital to make the event a resounding success.
“On the pitch, it also gives the national Under-23 side much-needed exposure ahead of the Tiger Cup in December,” said Datuk Azzuddin.
Argentina, the Athens 2004 gold medallists with an impeccable track record in age group football, shall start as favourites to retain the gold in Beijing.
Having his resources scattered worldwide, Argentina Olympic coach Sergio Batista can call upon starlets Lionel Messi, Fernando Gago, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero to don the Albicelestes.
Malaysian fans may bear witness to Batista’s homegrown talent such as Jonathan Maidana, Damian Escudero, Augusto Fernadez, Gabriel Paletta, Alejandro Gomez or emerging talents already based in Europe like Ezequiel Garay, Emiliano Insua, Franco Di Santo and Lucas Biglia.
Australia or the Olyroos boast of a number of talented youngsters, including Matthew Spiranovic of Nurnberg, James Wesolowski, Adrian Leijer, Adam Federici, Neil Kilkenny and Dario Vidosic.
Graham Arnold’s squad will have a camp in Australia early in May before jetting off to Malaysia. Five weeks ago, the Olyroos drew 1-1 with Mexico in front of a 40,000 crowd in San Francisco.
These matches continue an impressive match schedule for the Olyroos who qualified for the Olympics with a 1-1 draw in Pyongyang, North Korea last November.
With Danny Vukovic unlikely to play at the Olympics, Arnold may use the Kuala Lumpur stint as an opportunity to have a look at Liverpool’s promising reserve team goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.
The Nigerian Olympic squad are already dubbed Dream Team IV, illustrating the nation’s high expectations of Samson Siasia’s disciples.
The Flying Eagles became the final team to earn a ticket to Beijing but are likely to be the most charismatic of the African representatives.
With the 2005 World Youth Championship runners-up team forming the nucleus of Siasia’s soldiers, Nigeria seem on course to repeat the golden effort of the 1996 generation that boasted Nwankwo Kanu.
Everton striker Victor Anichebe and Olympique Marseille’s Taye Taiwo are the pick of the current crop.
Siasia who guided his team to the African Youth Championship and later the World Youth Championship runners-up in 2005, has already been linked to the hotseat at Bolton Wanderers.
The matches will be played at the KLFA Stadium in Cheras and the MBPJ Stadium in Petaling Jaya.
Tickets for the preliminary rounds will be priced at RM10 and RM15 for the terrace and grandstand respectively. For the semis stage onwards the tickets will cost RM15 and RM30.