The People's Republic of China, home to the 2008 Olympics and a population of over 1.3 billion (that's around 60 Chinese for every one Australian). They are dominating the Summer Games, as expected, but in Australian football they are not so fancied. Making their international debut at the AFL International Cup, worldfootynews.com spoke to coach Darryl Hoffman about what we might expect to see from the Red Demons.
US Revolution Coach Rob Oliver today confirmed squad changes to the one originally selected earlier in the year. Out of the squad are James Brunmeier, JJ Cisneros, Mike Levalley and Mike Busse who are all injured, and Jarrod Brunmeier who is unavailable due to other commitments. “We will miss these players and thank them for their efforts over the past years as valuable and enthusiastic members of the Revolution squad. We wish them well in their recoveries and hope that they will get the chance to represent the USA again.” It is of course inevitable when choosing a large squad so far out that some changes will have to be made due to injury in a serious contact sport. We believe that James Brunmeier was injured quite badly while playing football in Western Australia, and was only a slight chance to see any football at the end of the season.
Those out of the squad have been replaced by Josh Loring and Jeff Persson from the alternates list plus former Revolution representatives from the 2002 International Cup BJ Gambaro, Jay Mueller and Jason Becker (Gambaro and Mueller also played in the 2005 IC) whose experience will help to cover the losses from the squad. Oliver was upbeat about the inclusions adding “we are a team and this gives the opportunity to players picked as alternates to come into the team and grab their chance.”
With just a week to go before the start of the 3rd International Cup, worldfootynews.com will soon switch to a somewhat different appearance on the front page. We'll have the Pool ladders, short pieces of video (resources permitting) and quick links to information such as the draw, results, team details, public transport guide, Melbourne and Warrnambool weather and the AFL's International Cup page. Below that will be our regular accruing list of stories, with the focus obviously being on the IC08. During matches we hope to have regular score updates on the front page.
Hopefully readers will find it a quick way to find out what they want fast. A few days after the Cup we'll return to our normal layout.
The official squad named by the Samoan Kangaroos for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup includes their champion and captain from 2005, Fia Tootoo. He was named best player at the last Cup, with PNG's Navu Maha. There was some concern about Tootoo's availability, but it looks like the big fella will play. Fia is currently playing for Nyora in the Victorian EDFL. Reports suggest he has been a dominant player at centre halfback. If he is to play for both Samoa and Nyora he'll have an amazing schedule, as their league's finals overlap with the International Cup - though only if both his sides make their Grand Finals would there be a direct clash. Seeing Tootoo named will boost Samoa's chances enormously, but with a large 40-man squad, one wonders whether all players will be available for all matches. In fact the Roos' cause has been hurt by the ineligibility of around ten players they had hoped could play but who don't meet the criteria.
Here's the final squad named for the US Revolution. However we believe two key players, the Brunmeier brothers, will be absent, which could be a major setback for the American plans to break-through for their first grand final appearance. Star forward James Brunmeier is believed to be injured.
Following the solid progress Australian Football has made in the Middle East in the last two years, AFL Middle East will kick off in October 2008. The league will run over six months, and feature six of the region's clubs, with matches in nine-a-side format. As expected, four clubs are from the Emirates; the Dubai Dingoes, Dubai Heat, Dubai Dragons and the Abu Dhabi Falcons. The Muscat Magpies and Doha Kangaroos complete the group.
Stephen Nugent, Commercial Manager of AFL Middle East was recently in Melbourne to meet with the AFL and finalise plans for the league. He was also fortunate enough to meet Melbourne Chairman Jim Stynes, who has pledged "coaching and structural support for the teams". Nugent will reveal more about the league to WFN in coming weeks. In the meantime, Chelsea Roffey provides a good summary for the AFL website.
The first-ever Sweden Elks IC campaign has drawn its squad from far and wide. All regions of Swedish footy - Stockholm, Karlstad, Gothenburg, Dalarna and Scania - are represented, with one player from the world's most northerly footy club, the Svärdsjö Crows.
The squad has some experienced faces, with captain Andreas Svensson having represented Denmark at the 2002 IC, in the days when Sweden only had one club, the Helsingborg Saints in the DAFL. The Elks also have some size on their side, with Mats Wurmbach from Stockholm club the Solna Axemen standing 208cm tall - almost 6 foot 10 in the old scale.
The three Stockholm sides (Solna, Bromma and Södermalm) have 9 representatives between them, as do the three Scanian sides (Landskrona, Helsingborg and Port Malmö). The Gothenburg Berserkers supply 5, Karlstad 3, and the Dalarna clubs (Falun and Svärdsjö) 2.
The Israel-Palestine Peace Team has been named, with 26 players headed for Australia. With different faiths and different languages, getting this side together was a daunting task. They now face further great hurdles - experienced opponents and understanding coach Robert DiPierdomenico (fortunately co-coached by Simon Jacobs). Some promising matches against expat-Aussies in Israel suggest this side will be tougher to beat than first expected, but a lack of experience will hurt and few tall players could be a problem if conditions are fine.
While Mal Michael is heading into retirement, another international connection is being explored by the Essendon Football Club, who have 19 year old Limerick lad Ian Ryan in Melbourne to trial with the club. The Limerick Leader has reported that Ryan is the first known player from the county to try out for an AFL club. And as far as we know it is the first time the Bombers have trialled a Gaelic footballer. The report implies player agent Ricky Nixon was involved, although at last check Essendon were not one of his signed up AFL clubs.
Meanwhile Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh has reportedly turned down a second offer of a contract by Carlton, and Nixon's two day talent camp at Breaffy's International Sports Hotel in County Mayo is schedule for Tuesday, 26 August and Wednesday, 27 August.
Papua New Guinea born AFL champion Mal Michael, a triple premiership player with the Brisbane Lions, has officially announced his retirement from his third and final club, Essendon (he started his career with Collingwood). Mal is on the record many times as wanting to return to PNG to help his country, as well as having an interest in representing the Mosquitoes in football.
More on his retirement and future plans later, but for now it was interesting to note that Australian media reported that Mal might even wish to represent PNG in next week's International Cup. Three issues would have to be addressed - would he be selected, is he eligible (and if not, would an exemption be granted) and is it too late given the deadline for final squads has passed?
Based on comments from AFLPNG staff in the past, Michael probably would be selected, given the big boost it would give to both the team (not least in the much needed height department) and exposure of the sport in PNG. However based on the tournament rules he would appear to be ineligible (having grown up and learnt the game in Australia) and as such would require an exemption. But the issue that seals his fate in the negative is that squads have indeed been finalised, lodged and the deadline passed. worldfootynews.com checked with AFL International Coordinator Josh Vanderloo, who confirmed that it is indeed too late.
Almost three years ago WFN reported here that the Oslo Trolls had formed. It's taken a bit of time, but the Trolls crew are still kicking on in the Norwegian capital and next weekend will host the first-ever match of Australian rules football in Norway.
Western Sweden's Karlstad Dragons will be making the trip west this weekend, with the 9-a-side game kicking off at Ekeberg Rugby Pitch in Oslo at 2pm on Saturday August 23. Some of the Trolls players have already been getting in some match practice, joining in with Gothenburg and Karlstad in AFL Sweden matches.
With Oslo only a few hours drive from the clubs in western Sweden, hopefully we'll see some regular action for the Trolls in the near future. It also completes the set for footy in Scandinavia, with the code now played in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, with news of some action starting up in Iceland (hopefully some more on that later).