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Jan 16, 2015

Tennis-Smooth draw for Djokovic at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic’s chances of winning a fifth Australian Open title have been boosted by a kind draw in the opening week, while women’s top seed Serena Williams kicks off her campaign against 106th-ranked Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.

World number one Djokovic faces a qualifier first up and will avoid the top 10 seeds until at least the quarter-finals, where he could meet big-serving Milos Raonic, one of the highly-fancied crop of young players tipped to challenge the dominance of the ‘Big Four’.

Jan 14, 2015

Hazazi levels for Saudis after Ryang ends goal drought

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Striker Naif Hazazi struck a 37th minute equaliser to put Saudi Arabia level at 1-1 with North Korea at halftime of their Asian Cup clash in Melbourne on Wednesday after Ryang Yong Gi ended the Koreans’ 23-year goal drought at the tournament.

A midfield interception and a chain of slick passes ended with Hazazi firing the ball low through North Korea keeper Ri Myong Guk’s legs, sparking the ‘Green Falcons’ into life after they were dominated for most of the half.

Jan 14, 2015

Jordan striker Hayel mistreated in drug test – JFA

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Striker Ahmad Hayel was mistreated during a doping test following the 1-0 loss to Iraq in the Asian Cup on Monday, the Jordanian Football Association said on Wednesday.

Hayel arrived back at the team hotel “suffering from semiā€coma, general weakness, and hypothermia” the Jordanian Football Association (JFA) said in a statement, adding they had filed a complaint to the Asian Football Confederation.

Jan 14, 2015

Long-serving Zheng bids to guide China out of ‘dark years’

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Of all China’s players at the Asian Cup, captain Zheng Zhi may be the most tired of hearing his nation described as the “sleeping giant” of world soccer.

The 34-year-old midfielder first made his mark in the national team as it surfed a wave of optimism in the wake of their first and only World Cup appearance at the 2002 finals in South Korea and Japan.

Jan 14, 2015

Soccer-Long-serving Zheng bids to guide China out of ‘dark years’

MELBOURNE, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Of all China’s players at the Asian Cup, captain Zheng Zhi may be the most tired of hearing his nation described as the “sleeping giant” of world soccer.

The 34-year-old midfielder first made his mark in the national team as it surfed a wave of optimism in the wake of their first and only World Cup appearance at the 2002 finals in South Korea and Japan.

Jan 11, 2015

Hajsafi stunner highlights Iran’s 2-0 win over Bahrain

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Ehsan Hajsafi and Masoud Shojaei each scored volleyed goals to fire Iran to an emphatic 2-0 win in their Asian Cup opener against Bahrain in Melbourne on Sunday.

Utility player Hajsafi struck a brilliant, blistering volley from outside the area a minute into stoppage time of the first half.

Jan 10, 2015

Luongo, Cahill put Australia 2-1 up at halftime vs Kuwait

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia talisman Tim Cahill and midfielder Massimo Luongo struck before the break to put the hosts 2-1 up against Kuwait and cap a pulsating first half of their Asian Cup opener in Melbourne on Friday.

Luongo leaped in front of Cahill to head in a cross from defender Ivan Franjic and 30,000 fans at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium roared with delight after they were earlier left stunned by Kuwaiti Hussain Fadhel’s headed goal after eight minutes.

Jan 9, 2015

Australia hammer Kuwait 4-1 in stunning Asian Cup start

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia shook off a nervous start and an early goal before trampling over Kuwait 4-1 to kick off their home Asian Cup in emphatic style in Melbourne on Friday.

Young midfielder Massimo Luongo shone for the home side, setting up a goal for Socceroos talisman Tim Cahill in the 33rd minute before heading in one of his own two minutes before the break in front of 30,000 spectators at the Rectangular Stadium.

Jan 9, 2015

Kuwait footballing history shaped by political winds

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Decades have passed since Kuwait’s halcyon days as a powerhouse of Asian soccer, but the tiny Gulf nation has retained its clout as a major player in the sport’s labyrinthine politics.

Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah holds no official title with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), but the Olympic Council of Asia boss may be the game’s most influential powerbroker after FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Jan 8, 2015

Asia must remain united behind Blatter: official

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Asian Football Confederation supports Sepp Blatter’s bid to secure a fifth consecutive term as FIFA president, according to AFC general secretary Alex Soosay.

Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein’s decision to run for world soccer’s top job has breathed new life into the presidential race but the 39-year-old faces an uphill task to convince members of Asia’s 47-nation bloc to abandon their backing for Blatter.

    • About Ian

      "Based in home-town of Melbourne covering sports in Australia and New Zealand and a member of the Asia Sports desk. Previously covered general news and politics in Beijing with a special focus on the Beijing 2008 Olympics."
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