The Asian Cup Begins in Earnest Tomorrow Night!
The Asian Cup, which typically takes place every 4 years, was moved up this year so that it won't go up against the European Championships and the Olympics next summer. This year there are 4 hosts for the Cup, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Frustrating as it is, not only will I not be in attendance (though I may have to make the trip if China makes the semis), but the most expensive ticket for China's group stage games in Malaysia are cheaper than the cheapest ticket when the tournament was played in China in 2004. Though the competition is only a few days old, there have already been big surprises with Australia and Japan (two of the main favorites) only earning ties in their first round matches.
China's group contains hosts Malaysia, perennial Asian powerhouse Iran, and Uzbekistan. In 2004, in front of the home fans, China was able to make it to the finals where they suffered a heartbreaking loss, this time around anything short of a semifinal appearance and Coach Zhu Guanghu is sure to get the boot. Fans have been placing a lot of pressure on Zhu and his charges, and calls for him to step down have been coming hard and heavy over the past few months, especially after being upset by Thailand and then embarassing themsleves in the US, but all would be forgotten by a great run in the tournament.
Zheng Zhi (Captain)
Tomorrow night's game will be live on CCTV-5 starting at 20:35 and be sure to stop by here after the game for post-game analysis!