Since FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup nearly 2 years ago there has been increasing pressure on the body to rethink their decision. With the tournament still 9 years away, the football world is throwing a tantrum and it seems that some of FIFA’s members are becoming more outspoken about their disapproval of the tiny Gulf state as host.

When Blatter made the announcement in Zurich the jubilation of the Qatar bid team who had travelled to Switzerland was similar to that of a jackpot winner at iPadcasino.com.au. The rest of the massive conference hall was silent for a moment before voicing their shock and exasperation at the decision, but it seemed that there was no going back. However, now it seems there are more rumblings about the suitability of the event in a location that has a blistering hot summer totally unsuited to the sport.

FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger has waded into the fray, calling the Qatar World Cup a blatant mistake. He says that even moving the date of the cup wouldn’t be ideal as although it may help players avoid the searing summer heat it would seriously affect the European Leagues. Sepp Blatter proposed the switch of the tournament to the cooler months, saying that the World Cup is a party for the people and although you can cool stadiums down, you cannot cool down a whole country. The summer heat regularly tops 100 degrees and should never have been considered a viable option for the cup in the first place. Blatter’s proposal was met with disdain and Zwanziger insists the event should be given to someone else.

Other high profile figures have also recently expressed their opposition over the tournament being hosted by Qatar, with UEFA President Michael Platini saying it was impossible to play football in Qatar and another member of the FIFA Executive Committee, Franz Beckenbauer being adamant about providing an alternative solution. CEO of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore has also expressed his unhappiness, saying that the change of event date would disrupt the league and that summer is the right time, with good reason.

There is no doubt that a cloud hangs over the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and  the decision that looked set in stone might now be crumbling.

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If the other three Quarter Finals can live up to the excitement and quality of the first then we are in for a treat. Five goals, some great football, excitement around the stadium, such a shame that in the end someone had to lose.

The hosts and underdogs had a great start and forced a good save from Eiji Kawashima, forward Sebastian Soria had his shot blocked however it fell to Mesaad Ali and his powerful effort forced the Japanese keeper to make a fine save. A great start from Bruno Metsu’s side and the home fans had the atmosphere jumping.

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After a rush of work hit the gibfootballshow shores mixed in with the incompentency of Eurosport in ever scheduling something for when it’s actually on, it has been nigh on impossible to keep up with the Asian Cup to the extent that the website wanted to.

The competition has reached the Quarter Final stage and it’s time to make the return to the crazy world of Asian football. Group A maybe had a slight upset as China were eliminated but however Uzbekistan have been superb and Qatar bucked up their ideas to see both teams advance.

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After a good performance in the first game China will be unhappy to not pick up any points against the hosts. Qatar on the other hand will be delighted, back in contention for a place in the last eight, with the home support behind him it is a real boost to the competition.

Den Zhuoxuxiang impressive in the first game should have done better with his early chance, Yu Han tricked his way down the left, drawing in two players he cut the ball back to Rong Hao. Rong played a superb left foot cross to the back post Deng jumped well but his header went straight in the hands of Qasem Burham.

After missing a good chance China should have been made to pay. Ibrahim Majed’s shot was blocked by Zhao Peng, however the defender fell while attempting his clearance and the ball fell to Sebastian Suria inside the penalty box. Suria swung his left foot at the ball and made an absolute hash of the attempt, scuffing the ball wide of the post. No doubt the miss of the tournament.

Back came China, Yu Han was sent away down the left he had Gao Lin free in the centre, but Yu’s pass was too weak, Gao was dragged away from goal and with the angles against him his shot was easily blocked and straight in the keepers arms. Yu should have done better.

Quarter of the way through the game and China got a warning about the intentions of Qatar forward Yusef Ahmed his powerful right footed shot whistled past the post. There was more to come.

Only seconds later Ahmed controlled the ball well on his chest 30 yards from goal, turning with the ball, then with a deft touch with his knee as he advanced forward he unleashed a shot that Tony Yeboah would have been proud of. The shot rocketed and dipped into the top corner. It must be in contention for Goal of the Tournament so far, a fantastic solo effort.

Qatar doubled their lead just before the break, from a throw in on the right the ball was flicked on to Yusef Ahmed, controlled gracefully on his chest, he then let the ball drop, spinned to his right and fired a shot between defender Du Wei’s legs and the defence could only watch as it trundled into the net. What a way to end the first half, Qatar two goals to the good and putting themselves right back in this tournament.

The second half wasn’t as good as the first, Yang Xu had a half chance for China. Rong Hao looked a good player on the left, full of energy, good passing, good touch. He burst into life cutting inside with a nice give and go, he fed Yang the ball. Yang turned and shot but the ball was always going wide.

Suria then had a chance to make up for his sitter. A Long ball from defence was easily intercepted by Zhao Peng the centre back his header was too weak to clear the ball though and Suria pounced. Dribbling across goal he then fired a powerful shot towards goal, unfortunately the only thing it made contact with was the pole holding up the net.

Already 2-0 down things got worse for China before the end. Zhao Peng although not having the best game, the management team will have been worried when he had to come off. Holding his hamstring it did not look good, and you don’t want to leave Du Wei all by himself in the centre of your defence.

The game ended 2-0 a great victory for the hosts, China disappointed they couldn’t build on the opening win. China coach Gao Hongbo felt let down by his teams quality in front of goal.

“Our team didn’t do very well in the attack,” he said.

“Qatar scored their two goals in the first-half and we didn’t put them under enough pressure so they organised their defence as the pressure was not big.

“This is a very good experience for the team. It is an away game and there were a lot of fans here to support Qatar. The atmosphere of the stadium was great and our young players can learn from the match.

“All the players did a very good job tonight. We lost the game but losing is a part of our life and I think we can do better in the next game, which is the most important game for us.”

Qatar’s Coach Bruno Metsu was delighted his side finally showed what they were made of.

“We had to show the true face of our team and the players showed our real performance tonight,”

“I’m proud with everything that they showed and happy about this performance.

“I hope that we can have a similar display in next match against Kuwait so that we can carry on in the competition and advance to the knockout stage.

“We did our best to get a 2-0 lead in the game against China. After taking the lead, we faced a tough situation as China went on the attack as they tried to get back into the game.

“We missed several chances but I’m happy that we created these chances. I hope that we can create such chances in the next game and that we can take the pressure off our shoulders against Kuwait.”

Qatar will fancy their chances against Kuwait in the last group game, and China know they will most likely need a win if they want to make it to the last eight. Should be an exciting last day in Group A on Sunday.

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Today saw the opening match of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, the hosts Qatar were up against Uzbekistan. Let’s just say it didn’t go according to plan for the hosts on their big day.

After an uninspired first half it was up to defender Odil Akhmedov to start the tournament off with a BANG! Stepping up from back, 30 yards from goal Ahmedov tried his luck and fired a wonderful goal past the flailing Qasem Burhan in the Qatar net.

The home crowd inside the Khalifa International Stadium groaned when the home side went 2-0 down. A poor backpass from left-back Ibrahim Majed put 2008 Asian Football of the Year Server Djeparov in on goal and all he had to do was sidefoot the ball past Burhan and the Uzbeki’s had the 2-0 victory which puts then in pole position to qualify from Group A.

Qatar coach Bruno Metsu came out with an honest account of his teams performance:

“Today is a very bad start for our team,” he said.

“We wanted to play well for the people, for everybody but we played a very bad game today. I’m sorry for the fans, for everybody but sometimes it is very difficult to play well right from the start of a tournament, particularly with pressure on the players.

“I hope that the team will improve and I think it is very possible because today there were many mistakes and the players need to give something more for the next game.”

On the opposite side Uzbekistan’s coach Vadim Abramov seemed very confident of his teams performance:

“I’m very sorry for Qatar people because this was a big celebration for them,” he said.

“They (the players) played great today but this is not our maximum, I still think that we can play much better.

“We got the three points today and we are happy now but we should not relax for the next match. We will enjoy this now but tomorrow we will look to the next match.

“The fact that we beat Qatar today will help us for the next game.”

Tomorrow Kuwait will take on China in the Al Gharafa Stadium a win for either team will give them a great chance to progress.

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After yesterday’s preview it’s time to look at the player that hopefully will be dazzling us with their ability over the next four weeks. So here are ten players to watch out for, some of them I highly recommend, some of them I will be watching out for myself. Usually a bad sign when you get recommended on this site.

Ki Sung-Yueng – Korea Republic

When you mention the Korea Republic people automatically mention Park Ji-Sung of Manchester United and Park Chu-Young of Monaco however one of the most impressive players in Korea’s team is Celtic’s Ki Sung-Yueng. Only 21 years old and he has 21 caps for his country and four World Cup appearances.

After a tough first year at Celtic Park Ki returned from South Africa and was full of confidence, after a slow start he has made his way into the team and before leaving for Qatar he has become a first team regular. He has impressed the Parkhead faithful with his quality of passing, and calmness on the ball. He was named Young Player of the Month for October and it says a lot when Celtic fans now think they will miss him of the month of January.

Very impressive at the World Cup he was the lynchpin of most of Korea’s excellent passing football, also deadly from set-pieces he set up the first goal as Korea went on to brush aside Greece in their opening game. Growing in stature with every passing moment big things are expected from Ki.

Thomas Oar – Australia

A replacement in the Australia squad for Richard Garcia due to injury Thomas is a relevant unknown but has done enough in his young career to make a few people sit up and take notice.

Signing for FC Utrecht in March he has only made a handful of appearances, most memorably he came on with 20 minutes to go at Anfield in the Europa League tie against Liverpool, making a sudden impact he had commentators purring over his cameo.

It was the same when he started his career in Australia, after signing for the Brisbane Roar back in 2008 it only took him two games to open his account, playing against the Wellington Phoenix his 91st minute free-kick was the match winner.

Playing on the left wing, the references to “the next Harry Kewell” are made often. Thomas does possess a fantastic left foot but he can also use his right to devastating effect. It is no wonder Utrecht were quick to snap him up. One for the future for sure.

Ahmad Ayad – Iraq

Anyone known as the Iraqi Messi has to be worth a watch. A 19 year old winger from Baghdad currently playing his football for Persija Jakarta in Indonesia, with a very impressive record from his days in Iraq he is certainly one to watch. 35 goals in 84 games for Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.

Not much else is known about Ahmad this tournament could be the ideal place for him to add to his 15 caps and make a statement to the watching world. He certainly is one to watch; at 17 he was named the Iraq Super League MVP by a fan vote.

Yuto Nagatomo – Japan

Nagamoto stood out during Japan’s run in the World Cup his constant runs down the left from his full back position were very impressive, naturally right footed he has the ability to cut inside and unleash some very dangerous shots.

Got his big move to Serie A after the tournament and has been playing for minnows A.C Cesena on loan from FC Tokyo. It has been a quick progression for the 24 year old. A member of the 2008 Olympic team he was then named in the J-League’s rookies of the year. Arsene Wenger then named him in his best XI of the World Cup.

His defensive abilities are not as good as his attacking side. Much more comfortable when going forward, this tournament will surely give him the chance to express that side even more.

Talal Al-Bloushi – Qatar

This one is a little bit of a long shot. After the World Cup was awarded to Qatar the world wanted to know more about this unknown quantity. One of the most common things people found was this video.

Ladies and Gentleman we present Talal Al-Bloushi of Qatari club Al-Sadd, with tens of thousands of people watching the video and laughing at this unknown player, surely he could now go on to have a fantastic tournament.

At only 24 he already has 64 caps for his country and four goals from midfield. He must have some ability to play so many times for someone so young, now is the time for Talal to come up with some new reasons for people to watch his videos on YouTube.

Hao Junmin – China

Probably best known so far in Europe for handing over the #7 jersey when Schalke signed Raul from Real Madrid. It could have been an awkward situation but Hao grew up a huge Raul fan so there was no issue.

His chances at Schalke have been limited so far this season, only three appearances to date. He will relish the chance to get on the field and show the World what he has to offer. Chinese Young player of the year in 2005 and 2007 Hao has obvious ability. Able to finish with both feet, good on the ball, obvious pace, he can also be a danger from set-pieces.

At the young age of 23 there is plenty of time to add to his 28 caps, and he will be eager to add to his national teams goal tally, only one of his six goals have come in a competitive match.

Sunil Chhetri – India

Sunil is a strange but very interesting player, after playing in numerous teams around India he had an unsuccessful trial at Coventry City this was sparked by a hat-trick for India in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

With 40 caps and 19 goals for his country he is an experienced international player although he has still to do anything of note outside of India. He signed for the Kansas City Wizards in March of 2010, yet to play in the MLS his first appearance came against the Colorado Rapids in a cup match, he was removed at half-time and picked up a yellow card.

His next appearance came against Manchester United in a friendly, he came on with 20 minutes to go as Kansas went on to win although down to 10 men. Manager Peter Vermes was quoted as saying he was impressed with Sunil’s craft, technique and his attacking tendencies.

Now aged 26 this could be his big chance to impress his club and whoever else might be watching, with no pressure on India to perform it could be the ideal situation for Sunil to turn some heads.

Ehsan Hajsafi – Iran

The most promising player in Asian football, well that’s what the reports say, Ioan Andone the Romanian manager of his club side Sepahan has said that Ehsan could make it in any European league. This 20 year old left back has the world at his feet.

Able to play at left back or further up in the midfield, with a wonderful left foot he had 13 assists last season but can also pop up with a few goals, five in all competitions last year. But unlike Gareth Bale he can move the ball to his right foot and finish just as well.

He has recently been playing in the U-23 Asian Games, Iran knocked out by Japan in he Semi-Finals. Ehsan played in all seven of Iran’s games. Now is his time to impress with the full team, very few doubt his ability.

Louay Chanko – Syria

One of Syria’s most successful footballers Louay was born in Södertälje, Sweden and has spent his career moving round various Swedish teams. His most successful moments came when he lifted the Swedish title and cup double with Djurgarden in 2002, and he lifted the title again in 2004 with Malmo.

In 2009 he moved away from Sweden and signed for AaB Aalborg in Denmark, the move seems to be a success as he has scored three goals in 47 games, not bad for a midfielder.

Born in Sweden he played for the team of his birth in 2008 in a friendly against Costa Rica, then in the same year he decided to change allegiances and made his debut for Syria in a World Cup qualifier against Kuwait and has now appeared six more times.

Deadly from set-pieces with his right foot, although he is 31 he is only one of two Syrian players to play their football in Europe and with over 250 games under his belt his experience will be vital to the Syrian team.

One other thing to note is that Aalborg fans have a song for Chanko, singing “Ya Ya Ya LOLO CHANKO Ya Ya Yeah” to the sound of Mr President’s Coco Jambo.

Naif Hazazi – Saudi Arabia

Al-Ittihad’s number 9 is one of the hottest young strikers in Asian football right now, only 21 and in three years for his club he has scored over 40 goals, now a bad return for someone so young.

His great form has continued over to the international game his goals against Iran and the UAE impressed in their World Cup qualification run. 10 goals in 13 games for his club this season, eight of them in the last ten games would have impressed Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro and should be enough to give him a starting spot for the Saudi team.

The tournament kicks off this Friday as Qatar play Uzbekistan in Doha. Eurosport are covering the game, However it seems the games will be shown recorded.

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Even though the wonderful guys over at twofootedtackle whipped up a fantastic Asian Cup preview this morning, plans were already afoot for gibfootballshow to provide our own, so here it is.

This Friday night the eyes of the World will turn to Qatar as they host the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. With people tuning in not just to see the best of Asian talent but to see how Qatar cope hosting an event half the size of FIFA’s grand showpiece.

Sixteen teams will compete for the fifteenth Asian Cup. With the inclusion of six past champions (Israel being the only one not there of course.) there is a mixture of the better known teams Japan, Korea Republic, Australia and the lesser known Jordan, Syria and Bahrain.

Pressure you feel on the home nation to prove they are worthy of a World Cup spot albeit for a tournament in 11 years time. Korea DPR will look to improve on there impressive showing in South Africa with this their 3rd appearance in the tournament. Iraq and Saudi Arabia will hope to have an impressive tournament after both reached the final last time but failed to appear in South Africa last year.

With all the claims the Qatari bid made with their World Cup stadia plans people will be disappointed to hear that only two stadiums planned for the event in 2022 will be used in the competition. The 50,000 seater Khalifa International Stadium in Doha will host the opening game between Qatar and Uzbekistan and the final on January the 29th.

The Al-Gharafa Stadium also in Doha is the other World Cup stadium being used of course the plans are to increase it to 44,000 from it’s current 22,000 seats. Out of the other three stadiums only one can be found outside Doha.

Al-Rayyan’s Ahmed bin Ali Stadium will host all of Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s fixtures and organisers will hope to fill the 25,000 seats for each game and really ramp up the atmosphere of the tournament.

Back in 2007 the tournament was held in July with co-hosts Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. This year’s cup was moved to January to cope with the increased heat in the Middle East it is still expected to be around 25 degrees when the games start on Friday.

Younis Mahmoud’s 72nd minute goal was enough to see Iraq overcome Saudi Arabia 1-0 to lift the 2007 Asian Cup and complete a fairytale story for the war-torn nation. Reaching the final they beat Australia, Vietnam and the Korea Republic, although they only scored seven goals they played some great football and deserved the victory.

Saudi Arabia would have been disappointed with their finish to the tournament, top scorers with twelve goals and wins over the Korea Republic and Japan they would have felt like favourites for the cup but Mahmoud’s seventh goal was enough to cause the upset.

Looking at the four groups there are some mouth-watering encounters. Qatar have a great chance of reaching the Quarter-Finals and so will their opponents, Kuwait, China and Uzbekistan will all fancy their chances of getting out of Group A.

Group B sees favourites Japan and Saudi Arabia lock horns and surely Syria and Jordan will need a miracle to advance, however in a three game group there are no certainties for qualification.

In Group C Australia will fancy their chances of reaching the last eight, a tough test against the Korea Republic sandwiched by games against India and Bahrain. The last group is surely the “Group of Death” Iraq, Iran, Korea DPR and the United Arab Emirates will be a scene out of a George Bush tea party. All four teams from Group D will be eager to advance.

According to a popular betting site it’s no surprise to see Japan, Australia and South Korea as outright favourites to lift the trophy. Holders Iraq are deemed as a long shot to regain their title at 21/1. Most people will look to the big three for the winner come the end of January however it’s worth watching Korea DPR and the Saudis.

For people with access to TV channel Eurosport will be happy to know they will be broadcasting the tournament from this Friday.

Stay tuned tomorrow for ten players to watch for in the tournament.

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