AFL Asian Champs Team Previews
One of the biggest AFL tournaments in the world visits Saigon this weekend. The AFL Asian Champs has run since 1999. As Sanchez the Wombat said in his exclusive interview with the #Champs 16 Record (get it on the day at RMIT, it’s full of gold!) – “Asian Football is all about Asian champs”. This year a record 18 teams from 13 countries will contest Division 1 and 2 trophies and Sport in Saigon will be there to capture the action. You should be too!
Find below an introduction to all the teams vying for Australian Football’s biggest international tournament’s bragging rights ahead of the game below:
The Vietnam Swans – Division 1 & 2 teams
With its player base spread mostly between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi (and a handful of gun players in central Vietnam as well), the Vietnam Swans is now celebrating 10 years of being a national club and their Asian Champs squad will showcase players from all three regions of the country. Hosting the Champs for the first time ever has generated plenty of buzz around sports bars over the last few months, with several recently-departed Swannies rejoining the flock to play on October 15th.
Coming off a relatively successful 2015, early this year the Swans received a wakeup call on two major fronts – losing their ANZAC Friendship Match by a goal to Jakarta, and bowing out in straight sets at the Manila Cup in May. There has been plenty of introspection among the playing group since Manila, but the on-field leadership has regrouped, reset and planned out their road to the 2016 Champs.
The second half of the year has seen the rebirth of the Reds vs Whites intraclub series, solid performances against Cambodia in the home-and-away Cannonball Run series and a more unified performance in Thailand in September. All matches have been focussed on a new game plan under the leadership of Tim Burdeu whose new training regime has seen huge improvements from most players in HCMC.
Hosting the Champs in 2016 means that the Swans will be bringing their full arsenal of current members to RMIT, and as a result will be providing teams in both Division 1 and Division 2. While this will undoubtedly cause plenty of headaches for the selectors, they will be buoyed by the fact that the top 2 from the 2015 B&F count will be returning for #champs16 (Tom Doer and Tim Pickert).
Expect big performances on the day from:
- The Milner brothers (Sean #1, Nathan #67) – both have been performing consistently this year, provided we can drag them out on tour. Look out for Sean throwing himself 100% into any contest in the midfield, while Nathan will be able to cherrypick any wayward ball that falls into the backline.
- Vaughan Swart (#88) – The token Canadian has been experimenting with ruckman duties in recent matches, but expect to see him drift back to defuse whichever full forward comes his way.
- Gus McEwin (#17) – “Uncle” credits his ripping performances this year to his yoga sessions, although he claims he’s only going to them because of the attractive instructor. Whatever the inspiration, his efforts in the forward line and along the wings have been massive in 2016.
- Bill Crang (currently #4 but he may lose that jumper in the meantime) – the Swannies captain has been hot and cold this year, but his off-field training regime to prepare for Champs has been impressive so expect him to pour it all out on the unfortunate half-forward that has him for company.
Singapore Wombats – Division 1 & 2
The Singapore Australian Football Club (SAFC) was formed on April 24, 1993 by 10 homesick, football deprived Aussies who were toughing it out in the tropical balm of Singapore’s business trenches.
With around 6000 Australian and New Zealand expats in the community the visionary founding fathers of Singapore Aussie Rules figured there had to be at least 30 blokes who could get together on a weekend and have a trot on the old paddock. It sounded simple! Through a series of recruitment drives that led team crusaders on a vigilant and exhaustive tour of pretty much every pub in the land, a playlist was assembled that made weekly intra-club games a reality.
Adding depth, match toughness and certainly a respect for the beer consuming capacity of our armed forces, the Singapore Wombats are able to schedule matches throughout each year against visiting Royal Australian Navy ships. The RAN Liaison Office in Singapore has been instrumental in keeping the navy series alive. The game is always played in good spirit with the Navy boys as thankful of a run on terra firma as the Wombats are chuffed to strut their stuff as the national side and build team strength.
As one of the oldest clubs in Asia, the Singapore Wombats have a proud history at the Asian Champs. One of only 4 clubs to participate in every Asian Champs held, the Wombats have taken home the trophy on 6 occasions, as well as hosting it twice.
Given difficulties in finding grounds to play on in Singapore, and the general cost of living, the Wombats tend to tour more often than not. 2016 have seen the Wombats travel to Manila, Bali, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Malaysia for games this year. Whilst current day tours don’t seem to produce big numbers or much success for the Wombats, Asian Champs tend to be a different story.
With the ability for the Wombats to enter sides in both Division 1 and 2, Singapore will once again be bringing a large squad to Champs. Division 1 will see three tough games in the preliminary rounds as we renew hostilities with Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia. The 2’s don’t have it much easier with initial games against Cambodia, The Garudas and China. Whilst the run into Champs once again hasn’t been perfect, we still feel that both teams will in the mix at the pointy end of the day.
Hong Kong Dragons – Division 1 & 2
Formed in 1990 the Dragons have attended 13 Champs striking at an enviable almost 50% winning in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2015. This year the Dragons are coached by Garry Wines and captained by Tim Smith.
The Dragons were formed by Ray Wood when challenged by a bunch of rugby players that it was not possible to get enough support to establish an Aussie Rules team. The first ever game was held at Stanley Fort between two expat teams in front of a solid crowd of 2,500. The club’s first international was in 1992 in Tokyo vs the Goannas. The Dragons walked away with a solid win.
Since then, the club has continued to be a force in Asian football and has won six Asian championships as well as numerous other fixtures over the years.
The 2016 Season sees the dragons defending their title once again. Plenty of match practice has been had courtesy of a robust South China League and a HK 10s tournament against Singapore and Phillipines. New his year is the dynamic and varied leadership group who have their work cut out for them as the contest gets tougher and tougher each year.
Players to look out for in 2016 include:
-New midfielder BJ, who’s pace and engine should provide much run.
-Ballarat lad Coby’s size and skill set makes him able to play almost any position on the ground.
– Returning to the dragons fold are the seasoned campaigners Chrisian “the Spinkler” Cook and Liam “Guido” Ginnivan who show no signs of slowing down.
-Backing up a second champs is Sammy “The Difference” Agars who will be looking to make good his promise of 4 more titles.
Throw in All-Asian Jock Auld, New-Dad Darren Brakenridge and in-form captain Tim Smith and the side looks set to take whatever is thrown their way.
Malaysian Warriors – Division 1
After another huge year on and off the field, the Warriors head to Saigon full of confidence following our 2015 Asian Champs grand final appearance, which was the first in our 24 year history. The introduction of the two-tier system in 2015 ensured a true war of attrition, and we expect this year’s champs to be no different.
With lessons learned from 2015, the Warriors coaching committee has stepped up preparations in 2016 to ensure we land in Saigon ready to contend for the cup. Our priority has been to ensure we arrive in better shape than last year and we will certainly deliver this from a fitness perspective. The boys have been working extremely hard outside of our official training sessions, and with a two-game series against Singapore and intra-club matches under our belt in recent weeks, we will be well and truly match hardened. We also take a much larger squad, in every sense of the word into this year’s champs with the playing squad of 35 complimented with some much needed added size across the board.
Keep an eye out for Anthony Di Candilo, weaving his magic from the backline, Jimmy Worland scrapping hard in the centre, and Paul “The Phone” Booth doing a heap of damage up forward. A special mention also to Warriors and AFL Asia legend, Ben “EGGSY” Simpson, who will play his 100th game for the club in our first pool game of the day – he’s a true champion on and off the field and we wish him all the best for his milestone game.
Much has been said about the Warriors road to the finals being the toughest of all the first division teams. Looking across all six division 1 teams, you can make a strong case for any of them to be lifting the cup at the end of the day, so there are certainly no easy paths to the finals. All teams know that the draw doesn’t mean a lot and that you will need to beat every team on the day if you want to win the big prize. Regardless of results, you can be assured that the Warriors will play hard all day and push every team to the final siren.
We wish all 18 teams competing in Saigon the best of luck. Play hard, stay healthy and have a great day!
Warriors Captain – Kurt Stocks.
Philippine Eagles – Division 1
The Philippine Eagles have been developing exponentially in all areas over the last few years and this year has certainly been one of the most exciting. The Eagles were able to spread their wings and have enjoyed multiple tours including Jakarta, Hong Kong and now looking forward to the champs in Vietnam.
We’ve had another successful domestic PAFL season, including the establishment of an inaugural Auskick program which has gained plenty of popularity so far and given much attention back to the PAFL. There has been an emergence of new talent come through the Philippines, both young and experienced, which will add much depth to the squad. A major focus in 2016 has been development and under the guidance of our super coach Terry Mahoney, each player has stepped up another level and the standard has risen. This was shown back in May, as the Eagles took out the annual Manila Cup tournament and walked away winners for the second time in their history.
The 2016 Asian Champs presents an opportunity for the Philippine Eagles to show what it takes to rise from the bottom to the top, after many years of development and sustaining of competitiveness. To have multiple tours under the belt this year, exposing our young players to the higher level of Asian footy, a successful Manila cup and one of our most prominent years of recruitment. You couldn’t have asked for a better preparation in the lead up to the Champs for the Eagles, and to be in a position to take out the Division One title is a fantastic feat in itself for the PAFL.
Players to watch out for will be:
Coming off an All Asian champs last year, the young gun Shane ‘Salty’ Hawke is set to burn up the track once again, on and off the field.
For a bloke who has been doing nothing but training in the boxing ring, Craig ‘Bull’ Marsh, will certainly bring that aggression onto the field and has a knack for finding the goals.
Adam ‘Houls’ Houlihan, is always a strong feature at each tournament with his sublime skills and on field charisma.
The skipper Evan “model” Spargo, has probably spent more time on his hair than on the track, but always brings his A game for his beloved Eagles.
We welcome back one of our premier ruckman Adan “big show” Rand, who we congratulate on his recent wedding in Wichita and will join us for another tilt at Champs.
Jakarta Bintangs – Division 1
In 2015, the Jakarta Bintangs Football Club celebrated its twenty year anniversary, publishing the prestigious Hall of Fame teams for both best on field and best off field on tour high achievers in those decades. Formed in 1995 by a few hard core true believers in an inauspicious time, with little local recognition of AFL, a much smaller expat community and a looming Asian Financial Crisis, the great game of AFL has leapt from success to success across Java on the back of its diverse playing crew. A total of 457 players have turned out in the Red, White and Black over the years. There have been Australian expats of course, but also French, Canadian, Dutch, American, and an Undead Transylvanian, as well as an army of fit skilled Indonesian players. Originally, the Bintangs outwork in the orphanages was relying on gradual incremental gains in getting the less resourced youth into an active and structured run around with opaque rules and a cruel ovoid ball. With the continuous sponsorship of the Australian Embassy and the dedication of the Australian Youth Ambassadors who bought the game to a new level throughout Java, a powerful squad of genuine Indonesian AFL Players has been formed making international matches on clear merit and even scoring All Asian Guernseys for Yosi Taihuttu and Vincent Halim. Now for the first time ever in the 2016 Asian Champs, the Indonesian Garudas will field a stand-alone national team, and the expatriate Bintangs will have to rely solely on their own resources: namely selfless team focus, the combined wisdom of hundreds of seasons of AFL football and a well recognised obsession with fitness and clean living.
Coming off a string of match winning Bintangs performances this year, players to watch will be:
- Beau Temby, narrowly avoiding shoulder amputation in the Champs 2015 but back full on this year due to his starfish like regenerative abilities.
- Robert “Prowler” Powell, as always a cross between Brent “Boomer” Harvey and a racing whippet.
- Chad “Childkiller” Loan, one to watch not so much for football but because it would be reckless to turn your back on him
In the 2016 Asian Champs, there will be a celebration, on field and off field, of the greatness of our game, the camaraderie in and between teams and the fact that each player has managed to survive another year despite constant predictions to the contrary.
Bali Geckos – Division 2
Asia’s Southernmost team, the Bali Geckos will once again don their Quiksilver board shorts for the Asian Championships and with wet weather expected, the ocean loving Geckos should excel in the conditions. Made up of surfers that kick a ball when the surf is flat, the blue, green and white jumpers that signify the colours of the surf around Bali will be proudly worn by the salt infested players.
The team has been avidly checking weather maps to ensure they don’t miss a swell whilst on tour but in a masterstroke by team management, Apocalypse Now has been fed to each of the Geckos’ facebook pages. With the choppers checking out the perfect left and right breaks from above, during the film, the Geckos players are now frothing to hit the beaches of ‘Nam.
Assuming that there is not a large swell hitting those beaches on Saturday the 15th, the Geckos should be able to field a decent team of sunburnt warriors, and their acclimatization to the wet conditions both on and off terra firma, should work in their favour.
The similarities between driving a surfboard through a tight barrel and finding your way through tight traffic in the middle of the AFL ground should see the on-ballers feeding the forwards with plenty of opportunity to take to the air. Just like boosting massive airs on their boards, we expect the forwards to sit on their opponent’s shoulders with serious hang time to bring down some cracking grabs.
And if all that comes together on the day, you can sing along to our song with the lyrics as follows:
Geckos for ever more,
Geckos are we.
Catching waves and drinking beer,
Chicks love being with real winners.
Geckos for ever more,
Geckos are we.
For we are the mighty Geckos,
GECKOS ARE THE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL!
Indonesian Garudas – Division 2
The 2016 Indonesia Garudas come to the Asian Champs hungry for success, and eager to show they can mix it with AFL’s best from around Asia.
The Garudas players come together from Balikpapan, Jakarta and Bali, and although the team has only played together a few times – during the 2014 AFL International Cup – they’re quietly confident of proving themselves in Ho Chin Minh City.
Look out for the twin towers of Bambang Suminarto and Busah Bala, and the speed and skill of midfielders Timbul Santoso and Michael Latupeirissa.
With plenty of skill, pace, and fitness, the Garudas are definitely the team to watch at this years champs.
Dave Oshea – “It’s very exciting to have the Garudas playing at the Asian Champs for the first time ever. Some of the guys in the team have been playing for the Bintangs since they were 13 years old. This year has been the turning point for a lot of them. It’s almost as if they have gone from boys to men.
Every time we have training, Boy the coach is always asking to take on the Bintangs in scratch matches, and the last few times the Garudas have destroyed the Bintangs. I must say that it was a little embarrassing when Paul Licuria and Nathan Bock came to a training session only to see the Garudas kick the Expats arses.
Although it’s a little disappointing that some of the Indonesians who are now some of Indonesia’s best footballers couldn’t play for the Bintangs, we as a club feel that it’s more exciting for the Garudas to compete as a team. Don’t underestimate their ferociousness and hardness at the ball.”
Thailand Tigers – Division 2
The Thailand Tigers origins date back to 1993, when four footy blokes managed to sneak out of the bars in Bangkok and kick a footy around in Lumpini Park. The club was officially established in 1996, as the Tigers hosted the Hong Kong Dragons in their first game of football. This year the club officially celebrates its 20th Anniversary, with football and festivities, to be held in Bangkok on Saturday 19th November.
The Tigers have become an integral part of football in Asia, and in 2000 were part of the 4 Nations Cup played between Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia – an event that would later be known as the Asian Championships. The Tigers have regularly participated in the Champs, and hosted the event in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. The club is also proud of the role they played in setting up the Indochina Bulldogs, a combined team of indigenous players from the region, with guidance from their inaugural coach, West Coast Eagles premiership player and 2006 Norm Smith Medalist, Andrew Embley. We look forward to having a beer with Embers at the Champs this year.
On field the Tigers have had a challenging year, seeing the departure of a lot of great clubmen, and possibly the world’s most insane tourist. We lost our ANZAC Day match to a sizzling Warriors team from Malaysia, though in true Tiger spirit we battled the game out and managed to win the second half. A tour to Cambodia in June saw the Tigers again fight hard, before being overrun by the Eagles. And in Bangkok in September, the Tigers had a raunchy three way with Vietnam and Cambodia, managing a win against a strong Vietnam side, before being overrun by the skilled and speedy, mostly Khmer, Eagles side. Asian football was the winner on the day.
This Champs will see the Tigers compete in Division 2, and bring a small but quality team. With a combined age of over 230 years, the Tigers are hoping their veterans in Yoda, Coxey, Jazza, Yorky and Rainsey are able to get out of bed for the event. We also hope to get some good run out of the young guns in Shieldsy, Smith 2, Jordy, Maysie, and Easy-E, getting first use of the ball thanks to our big men in Lettuce and G-Mac. Club games record holder and current captain Samo will out for another big champs, and after taking up the game only a few years ago, vice captain Chippie is ready to shine on the big stage.
We are looking forward to the Champs this year, and thank the Vietnam Swans for all their hard work in hosting what we expect to be an excellent event.
Myanmar Fighting Cocks – Division 2
Although securing no on field victories this season, the club has progressed towards being competitive at home against A Grade competition (Jakarta Bintangs) and competitive on tour against quality opposition in the Bali Geckos and the Cambodian Eagles. The tour to Cambodia marked the first time the Cock’s have taken Myanmar Nationals on tour. Both players earned their keep and Han Tun Aung even recorded his first goal. By and large, the on field performances are improving and recruitment prospects are only looking stronger.
The Cocks hosted a competitive Jakarta Bintangs in the inaugural Cock’s Plate in early February. The tournament is something the Club wants to make a yearly fixture and already has good levels of interest from multiple regional clubs for 2017. Apart from the game itself, one of the biggest highlights of the day was the Auskick clinic with 30 orphaned kids prior to the match.
The Club is well positioned to compete at the upcoming Asian Champ in HCMC, Vietnam. We have returnee super stars and a number of new recruits that will form the backbone of the side. As well as that, the Club will bring 4 Myanmar Nationals who will hopefully pace, agility and skill to the side. It is something that everybody at the Club is looking forward to. Also look out for Jhie Gough in his first Champs for Myanmar, most likely dominating up forward, and Paul Moynihan, an Irishman with talent, running through the middle.
Laos Elephants – Division 2
– Club background
The Lao Elephants came together in 2007 as the first Australian Rules Football club in Laos. The club got off to a strong start and won the Indochina Cup in 2008. In the several years following, the ‘Phants stayed competitive but with many original players moving on, and with a strong focus on the development of Lao national players, weren’t able to add anything to the trophy cabinet. So it came as a surprise to many when the Elephants turned up to the 2015 Asian Champs in Bangkok as a hungry and well prepared team (including 5 highly skilled Lao players), and went undefeated all day to take out the 2nd division title – a feat they’ll be looking to replicate in 2016.
– 2016 form/preparation leading up to Champs
The player list for the Elephants at AC16 looks quite similar to last year’s winning side, with a couple of notable absences such as ex-captain and President Steve Chapman and gun midfielder Steve Bruce, who have both moved back to Australia. The team has not been able to come together for many matches or training sessions in 2016, and have played only one friendly match against the Thai Gaelic Football Club in Khon Kaen in February for a mixed rules game. Despite this, individual training regimes have continued and the team is feeling fit and confident that they can go back-to-back in Ho Chi Minh City.
– Key players to look out for
The star of AC15, big Blair Bell will be playing for the ‘Phants and will be joined by his brother Callum for some Bell Double Trouble. Keeping it in the family again, Coach Craig Quigg – a veteran of the Lao Elephants – will be playing alongside his son Zak. Jonathan (not so) Small will be in the ruck again and knocking it down to the mustached menace, Andrew Haydon. Also keep an eye out for James Cannell – the longest serving Elephant in the team – who will be pulling on the pink guernsey for the last time and looking to go out in style (expect lots of bananas at goal from the boundary).
Cambodian Eagles – Division 2
Australian rules football has been played in Cambodia by members of the expatriate Australian community in Phnom Penh since 2000, when a club nicknamed the Cambodia Crocodiles was. The Crocodiles hosted other teams from around the Asian region for at least one tournament, but then went into recess.
A new club, now known as the Cambodian Kangaroos, was formed in 2008, specifically to host the four-team Indochina Cup that was held in Phnom Penh on November of that year, but this club also went into recess soon after the tournament. In 2010 the Cambodian Cobras were formed, and unlike the previous incarnations of an AFL club in Cambodia, the Cobras thrived with a strong leadership group and a large number of interested expatriate players.
The Cobras hosted the Vietnam Swans in Phnom Penh on July 31 for their first international match under the Cobra banner. Since then, the Cobras have traveled to Vietnam and Thailand a number of times becoming increasingly competitive each trip, including coming runners-up in the Indochina Cup held in Vietnam at the end of 2010.
The year 2011 heralded a new phase for football in Cambodia with the approach to the West Coast Eagles as an affiliated club. As chance would have it, members of the Eagles squad were touring Cambodia as part of a leadership program, and the Cobras made approaches to meet and host the group while in Phnom Penh. These meetings resulted in a now growing relationship between the clubs and have allowed the Cambodian AFL team to court sponsors to lay the foundations for a permanent presence in Cambodia.
As part the agreement with the West Coast Eagles, the Cobras changed their name and colors to that of the Eagles. Since this time, the Cambodian Eagles have participated in a numerous international tournaments and friendlies in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar.
All new players are welcome and the current playing group consists of players from around the world. We also have a number of Cambodian Players that are looking at honing their skills and participate as a combined South East Asian team that can been seen in action at the annual Asian Championships.
The Cambodian Eagles have been in good form leading into this year’s Asian Champs with wins against the Tigers, Swans and Fighting Cocks all under our belts for the year 2016. Now it is to see if this form can continue at the Champs?
China Reds – Division 2
The China Reds brings together players from the Shanghai Tigers, Beijing Bombers, Guangzhou Scorpions, Chengdu Kangaroos and Chongqing Cats. With three city leagues up and running the amount of footy being played in China has been more in 2016 than ever before. In addition to the SCAFL, SHAFL and BAFL 2016 has seen the hosting of the inaugural greater China cup, hosted and won by the Guangzhou Scorpions in April. The China cup between the Shanghai Tigers and Beijing Bombers was played for the 16th and 17th time, with the home team claiming victory in each leg. Hot rivalries from all the footy played have been doused by the cool refreshing beverages post game and the China Reds have become a united power.
With 2015 China Reds captain, Chen Xiao Liang, now strutting his stuff with the Port Adelaide Magpies a new breed of superstars will be showcasing the best of Chinese talent in the All Asia Cup on Friday, before some of the boys back up and go for glory on Saturday. With twin towers White and Nobby dominating the skies, Ro “Longest kick in Asia” Graham putting his slipper to good use, South African Luc and Ben “Ginger Beard” Lonsdale running through the middle, Howard Zhang flashing his elite skills off halfback, Deano providing the class and Shaun “Rex” Kasteljin finally in an appropriate position to but his skills to use the Reds will be a force to reckon with. All this combined with first time China Reds to be blooded after fine domestic form and the only thing more plentiful than goals on the scoreboard will be the beers drunk post game!
Macau Lightning – Division 2
Macau Lightning AFL club was formed in 2009 and began by running Auskick Clinics at the International School of Macau.
With an increasing demand for more football, the club started Saturday morning training which continues to grow with boys and girls aged between 4 to 14 years.
It was a smaller beginning for the Senior Macau Lightning Team in 2009 with only a handful of guys looking for a social kick.
As word spread of AFL in Macau numbers grew to a competitive squad of 30 players by 2010.
That same year saw the Senior Team make their International Debut with matches against Hong Kong Dragons and touring to Guangzhou and participating in the China Cup.
2014 was the biggest in the clubs young history, taking over 40 players to away games and really competing with the more established clubs in the area.
2016 has been a hard year for the club, downturns in the local economy meant losing a bulk of the squad and support members over a few months, but the core still soldier on and with a massive recruitment and re-building strategy currently in place and the Mighty Lightning will get back bigger and better than ever in the coming year.
A majorly borrowed squad for this year’s Champs will prove interesting and you never know, Macau may win a few games not just the boat race this year!
Japan Goannas – Division 2
For nearly three decades our great Australian game has been heavily promoted in the populated island nation of Japan by a passionate few. From poaching would-be future rugby and soccer stars around university campuses to luring Australians from de-centralized areas with the promise of free beer, the Japan Goannas squad is a microcosm of the hard work that now sees a healthy national competition with multiple entrenched clubs in Tokyo and other far-reaching areas.
Our team showcases an array of converts who have fallen in love with our game and made it their own. With Japanese-born players as well as players originally from Canada, Ireland and Singapore joining the Australian ex-pats in Japan, we’ll be aiming to bring a truly international flavor to a regional competition.
Historically, the Goannas have been a sporadic participator at the Champs with logistics and travel a constant barrier. Our first attempt was in 2005 when we made it to the semi-final after a famous (and contentious) 2-point win over the Bali Geckos. Since then we’ve not had much joy with our last attempt in 2013 ending with 4 straight losses and a Luke Jericho signature.
2016 sees the Japan Goannas competing in the new tier 2 group and there is a quiet confidence within. Veterans like Matt Gale (ex-Woodville West-Torrens forward) and Travis Wilson (JAFL games record holder with over 150 caps) return with plenty of new faces who are set to surprise. In particular, watch out for Yuki Akita (our resident Razor Ray) and Owen “Bootsma” Kearney (he’s a pilot – don’t worry you’ll hear about it).
Dressed in our customary red and white colors, the players are primed and pumped. Our preparation has been meticulous and we’ve been slowly weaning ourselves off sushi to begin accustoming ourselves to pho and spring rolls.
Captained by Yosuke Kuno (4x rep Japan Samurais national team), and coached by Gordon Jones (2015 premiership coach and JAFL MVP), this scaly team will be hoping to drink 333 from the premiership cup in Ho Chi Minh this October!
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock the event starts from 7:30 this Saturday (the 15th October) at RMIT on Nguyen Van Linh in District 7, HCMC. There will be full catering at the field by the Al Frescos Group. Games all day until sunset with the finals later in the day. After tournament entertainment with a DJ from Australia and Strongbow and Platinum beer are official drinks suppliers. This will be as big as it gets in Sport in Saigon. All info @ www.afl-asia.com
Furthermore there will be a Friday Sportsmans Lunch at RMIT with ex AFL stars Andrew Embley and Brad Seymour in attendance followed by the first ever All Asian Cup – only local Asian players playing for Indochina, INdonesia and Chinese teams. Check the AFL Asia site for info on this too!