Monday, October 19, 2009

More pressure on AFC to change

AUSTRALIAN coach Pim Verbeek (picture) has added his voice in support of his Oman counterpart Claude Le Roy and urged the Asian Football Confederation to bring its showpiece tournament into line with other major soccer competitions around the world.

Le Roy this week lamented the fact that only two of his adopted country's Asian Cup qualifiers were on FIFA designated matchdays, and on both occasions the tiny Sultanate from the Persian Gulf had to face Australia.

The fact that these games were scheduled on FIFA dates meant Verbeek was able to field his strongest possible team - as he did in Wednesday night's 1-0 win - because European clubs were forced to release them well ahead of the match.

On non-FIFA dates clubs can hold on to players until 48 hours before the international, and in many cases try to dissuade players from leaving at all.

It was Oman's misfortune to get Australia on those two dates, October 14 and November 14. But it is also a problem for Verbeek, because he had to field second-tier teams for the first two matches - a home loss to Kuwait and a draw in Jakarta - and will probably have to rely on A-League players to do the job away to Kuwait in January and at home to Indonesia in March.

''I think it's ridiculous of course, if you play Asian Cup qualification you want the best teams in Asia in the Asian Cup,'' Verbeek said. ''Oman is a little bit unlucky that we play them twice with our best possible selection. I think it's not good and Asian Cup [qualifiers] should be played on FIFA dates so you can bring in the best players available.''

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