Asian Cup Diary - Day 1

Day 1: Slow news days, training pictures, cultural exhibition and a dazzling opener.

For your typical football fan living in Asia, waiting for the big kick off of the Asian Cup would be akin to a child waiting for the clock to stroke midnight, half expecting their Christmas stockings to be full; the milk and cake which had been left out for Father Christmas consumed.

A solitary minute feels like an hour, an hour an eternity.

And while us fans waited in eager anticipation for the first kick of the ball, at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, we were teased by training pictures of competing teams, quotes from press conferences from national managers and videos of the Socceroos going for a pre-match walk. Riveting.

Such was the lack of action that media outlets had to revert to speculating on line-ups of upcoming matches. Worse, we were forced to salivate over Paul the Octopus-esque predictions that, again, rely purely on luck. And yet, in amongst all that build-up, transfer live blogs somehow found their place on sport websites. Must’ve been a slow news day.

Slowly but surely, the opening ceremony shuffled into view.

Unlike your general opening ceremony which seems to drag on for eternity, the one that took place in Melbourne was uncharacteristically short. Short but sweet, that is.

The Brazilians may be good at partying, but boy can we put on a show! Ultimately, it was celebration of what makes Australia great.

The deep-rooted history of the Aboriginal people and their impact on Australian culture was duly acknowledged, the multi-ethnicity of those present to witness the spectacle was indicative of what makes Australia special. Dance routines executed with precision, and with Havana Brown’s farcical lip-synching performance, the ceremony was over and done with.

And however impressive it was, it honestly had nothing on the real spectacle – the game itself.

Kuwait have a history of causing upsets especially against the Green and Gold outfit and it was far from surprising when the Socceroos suffered another nervous opening.

The visitors, who played with great discipline, put Australia on the back foot, and some desperately poor marking allowed Hussain Fadhel a header on goal to open the scoring.

The Australians, though, found composure and it was only fitting that the nation’s greatest ever player, Tim Cahill, would equalise. And no, he didn’t score from a header…

Massimo Luongo, Mile Jedinak and James Troisi also found the back of the net to give the Socceroos a morale-boosting win on day one, putting that dreaded ‘host nation never wins in their first match’ theory to bed.

Regardless of the result, it was simply a relief that the wait was finally over. And with another 22 days of matches remaining, this is shaping up to be the best Asian Cup ever!