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Asian Championships 2008 - The Heat prove too hot for Singapore

  • Monday, September 08 2008 @ 09:30 pm ACST
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UAE Heat have won the 2009 Asian Championships held in Singapore on September 6th, comfortably defeating pre-tournament favourites Singapore in the final 10.0.60 to 3.6.24.

Played in good conditions before a very healthy crowd, the Heat were simply too good. Kicking with the aid of the breeze in the first half and with their midfielders well on top, the Heat were able to rattle on five goals before Singapore were able to reply. At half time, the Heat led 6.0 to 1.2, and the Wombats faced a mighty task.

Further salt was rubbed into the wounds when the Heat goaled early in the second half to put the game beyond doubt. To their credit the Wombats fought back, but it was clear the Heat had too much run, were too fit and too good around the ground. The Wombats goaled twice, but the boys from Dubai iced the game with the equivalent reply late in the half.

Pictures courtesy of Mark Stennett of the Malaysia Warriors.

Earlier, both the Wombats and the Heat had topped their respective groups, both being unbeaten in the preliminary rounds. In the semi finals, Singapore defeated 2007 title holders Hong Kong 6.4.40 to 3.1.19, the Heat beat Bali 6.2.38 to 3.2.20 in a very good game.

Special mention must be made of the Lao Elephants playing in their first Asian Championships who surprised all by accounting for both Vietnam and Thailand in the preliminary rounds. This was a great effort by a club that was formed only a year ago and has very limited international experience.

The Under 16 Competition held for the first time was a great success with the Jakarta Bulldogs, Hong Kong Dragons Juniors, Singapore Wombat Juniors and Singapore Gaelic Cubs competing. The Jakarta Bulldogs showed their experience by comfortably accounting for the Singapore Wombats in the final.

What with Auskick and an Irish Hurling demonstration, it was a very full day and congratulations to the Wombats for carrying it off with aplomb.

So, Asian Football continues to grow and prosper. The Heat have broken the stranglehold that Hong Kong and Singapore have held in recent years. The emergence of Laos as a genuine competitor and the continued strength of the competing clubs Bali, Malaysia, Jakarta, Thailand and Vietnam augur well for the future.

From its humble beginnings, the Asian Championships have grown to a major event, with the standard of football improving every year. With Auskick and Junior competitions coming into play, plus new clubs such as Timor Leste and Borneo appearing, Australian Football has never been stronger in Asia. That in itself poses significant challenges, with the organization and administration of the game, particularly with the major championships now demanding a major commitment in time, effort and financing from the hosting club.

No decision has yet been made on the venue for the 2009 Championships, but given it will be the 10th, and with possibly up to 12 teams competing, the challenges are real and hopefully will be constructively addressed over the following months. All in all, a great championships, UAE Heat deserved winners. Congratulations to all.