Australia warn rivals they are only getting started after victory over Palestine

The Aussie were just too good for the Palestinians. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Australia warn rivals they are only getting started after victory over Palestine

  • Socceroos bounce back from shock defeat to Jordan.
  • Coach now claims they are the team to beat in the UAE.

LONDON: Australia’s victory over Palestine is just the start, the Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has warned. 

Having lost their Group B opener 1-0 to Jordan, the defending champions went into the match with several question marks hanging over them. That result was the tournament’s first shock and left many wondering whether the Aussies would fail to get out of the group and so suffer an embarrassing early exit. But after the Jordan setback Arnold promised his side would learn from the defeat, move on and improve, and on the evidence of the 90 minutes in Dubai against the Palestinians his guarantee was as strong as the performance. 

Goals from Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren, Awer Mabil and substitute Apostolos Giannou banished memories of the shock Jordan defeat and moved the Socceroos to second in the group behind their first-match conquerors. 

Having secured their first points of the tournament Arnold then issued a warning to Australia’s rivals claiming there was a lot more to come from his team. 

“As I said after the Jordan game, when you lose, you learn,” the Socceroos coach explained.

“And we learned a lot from that day We went onto the training pitch, we worked hard to fix the issues if the opponents play defensively.

“We’ll get better and better as we go. There have been a lot of changes in the team, a lot of changes, so we’re a new team and will still grow.”

Australia did indeed arrive in the UAE with several familiar faces missing either through retirement (Tim Cahill) or injury (Aaron Mooy). So perhaps it is no shock, with hindsight, that they started slowly and with a loss to Jordan. But having got that vital first win under their belts they still have to get a result against Syria to ensure progression. 

While the Syrians seem in disarray, having taken just one point form their two matches and subsequently sacked coach Bernd Stange, Arnold is all too aware that the side possess some fine players and are more than capable of beating his Socceroos. 

“Now it’s all about the Syria game,” Arnold said.

“This will be a difficult game. We know them well having played against them in the World Cup qualifier. 

“We’ll go back to the training field, we’ll recover well and we’ll go out for the Syria game with all guns blazing, expecting to win.”

Against Palestine Arnold dropped the under-performing Massimo Luongo and Robbie Kruse in favor of Jackson Irvine and Chris Ikonomidis, who impressed as substitutes against Jordan.

And it was a far more dynamic team that opened their account on 18 minutes, when Celtic’s Tom Rogic picked out Maclaren, who scored his first international goal with a glancing header.

Two minutes later and the Socceroos were 2-0 up as Ikonomidis lofted a ball to the far post, where Mabil sneaked in unmarked for a first-time finish.

Substitute striker Giannou made the final scoreline reflect Australia’s dominance, nodding a third for Australia in the final minute.


Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019
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Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”