Less than two weeks into 2015 and it is shaping up as a cracking year of sport. And the big events start now with the Asian Cup kicking off tonight.

  1. Asian Cup – Australia versus Kuwait – Melbourne will be the venue for the first game of the Asian Cup as hosts Australia take on Kuwait. Over the next three weeks sixteen teams will strive to be crowned Asian Champions. Hosts Australia are amongst the favourites and while they have shown progress under new coach Ange Postecoglou they have only won twice in twelve attempts under his stewardship. More worryingly they have found goals extremely hard to come by, relying on the ageing Tim Cahill to put the ball in the back of the net. He is the only player to score from open play since Postecoglou took over! Robbie Kruse is on the comeback from injury and he is one player that Australia will look to relieve some of the burden on Cahill. The other weekend fixture see the Korea Republic taking on Oman (Canberra), Uzbekistan versus DPR Korea (Sydney), Saudi Arabia versus China (Brisbane), United Arab Emirates versus Qatar (Canberra) and Iran versus Bahrain (Melbourne). Monday’s Group D fixtures see Japan play Palestine and Jordan taking on Iraq.

Tips – Despite falling to 100th in the world Australia should still easily account for Kuwait in the opening game of the Cup. Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Japan and Jordan to join them on the winners list.

SUQ – 8 – Plenty to look forward to with the Asian Cup on Australian soil and a number of legitimate contenders.


  1. Tennis – Hopman Cup – The United States snatched a spot in the final with a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic on Thursday and they will face either Poland, France or Great Britain. Serena Williams and John Isner haven’t been in the best form so far this week with Williams in particular looking tired and lethargic. The Hopman Cup, which is held in Perth, is a unique event. It is the first event of the year and takes place in a mixed format. Each country (well, the eight invited by the tournament director) is represented by a male and female player. They both play a singles match and then a mixed doubles match. There are no ranking points on offer but players seem to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in Perth, large crowds, unique format and a guaranteed three matches against high quality opposition. Poland look best placed to join the United States in the final but France and Great Britain, led by Andy Murray, can both still qualify if results go their way.

Tip – Poland to progress to the final and emerge victorious in the mixed doubles after splitting the singles.

SUQ – 7 – The Hopman Cup signals the start of the tennis season. The unique format and high quality tennis are reasons enough to watch.


  1. Cycling – Australian National Championships – Road Race – The women’s race takes place on Saturday. They will cover 102km and Gracie Elvin will be looking to complete a hat-trick of wins on the 10.2km Buninyong circuit (below). It would be a surprise if Elvin or one of her Orica-AIS teammates didn’t prevail.

For those unfamiliar with the circuit, the most testing part is the climb up Mount Buninyong. It takes place early in the circuit and from the top it is either flat or downhill virtually the whole way back to the start/finish line. This climb is the crucial part of the race and where the lead group will be whittled down to either a sole winner or small group who will sprint for the win.

The men will cover 183.6km, or 18 laps, of the circuit. One month ago Simon Gerrans was an unbackable favourite to win a second consecutive national championship. But his crash in training has opened up the race considerably. While Orica Greenedge still have strength in numbers they no longer have their best finisher. Michael Matthews was the obvious second choice but he has decided to skip the race this year, opting for a later start to the season. Last year’s placegetters, Cadel Evans and Richie Porte, are both back and eager for success. Evan’s is competing for the final time and will have plenty of support. Porte had a tough 2014 year and is desperate to return to the top. His win in the time trial was impressive and bodes well for Sunday. Porte and Evans may become allies during the race as neither has one of the strongest teams in the race. That honour goes to Orica and Drapac. Those two teams will look to infiltrate the early breakaway and then attack at every opportunity, forcing Evans, Porte and anyone else with a hope of winning to chase. If Orica are to win another national title then their best bets are probably Cameron Myer and Simon Clarke. Caleb Ewan may be the bookmakers third favourite (behind Porte and Evans) but I can’t see him staying with the big guns on Mount Buninyong over the last couple of laps. My outsider is Steele von Hoff. He won the Criterium on Wednesday night and has been a regular top ten finisher in recent years. If he can stay with the likes of Porte and Evans going up Mount Buninyong then he is likely to be the fastest sprinter left in the lead group.

Tips – Elvin to be heavily marked and teammate Katrina Garfoot to take the title. In the men’s, incredibly tough to pick. Porte is obviously in form but may not have the team support required. But I’ll stick with him to back up his time trial win and took the road race.

SUQ – 9 – There will be huge crowds lining the climb and at the finish. If you can’t watch it live then it’s also on TV, a sign of the growing stature of cycling in Australia. Tune in for the last three laps at least.


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