Leaders toppled, new challengers emerge
A similar scenario played out in Australia and India as the seemingly invincible Brisbane Roar and Dempo SC were deposed from top spot as a horror run of outs continued. In Thailand a new dynasty could be commencing as Buriram PEA etched their name on the championship trophy in the first stage of a possible treble. The dreams of cup glory were ended for some of Japan’s aristocrats while FIFA.com’s weekly review of club football in Asia and Oceania also pays a visit to Iraq and New Zealand.
Australia A-League: New faces in front
Brisbane Roar’s astonishing freefall continues unabated with the leaders finally toppled from their perch after suffering a fourth successive defeat, following their record-breaking of 36 matches undefeated. This time it was Central Coast Mariners who quelled the Roar with a 2-1 victory in a rematch of last year’s epic grand final. The Roar are now just two points clear of Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC, both of whom enjoyed 2-1 wins on the road against Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets respectively.
Big game: Adelaide United’s 3-0 home defeat against fellow cellar-dwellers Gold Coast United precipitated the departure of their Dutch coach Rini Coolen. Returning to the hot seat is John Kosmina who was at the helm at the club’s inception in 2003 and will start his tenure with a trip to another former club, Sydney FC.
Headline-grabber: Liberian refugee Teeboy Kamara became the youngest player in the A-League's short history when he took the field for hometown club Adelaide. At just 15, Kamara, who is already a veteran of this year's FIFA U-17 FIFA World Cup, beat the previous mark by almost a full year.
India's I-League: Dempo’s plunge continues
Dempo SC lost control of top spot after suffering a third straight defeat; this on the back of seven successive wins to open their campaign. Air-India came away with a 2-0 victory with Manandeep Singh’s goal setting them on their way. Benefiting from the plummet of the former champions were Churchill Brothers who demolished Shillong Lajong 6-0 with Henri Antchouet bagging a treble, to go two points clear at the top.
Big game: Reigning champions Salgaocar collected three much needed points as Ryuji Sueoka’s lone strike ended a run of four matches without victory. The slim 1-0 victory over winless Hindustan Aeronautics took Salgaocar into midtable but still 11 points off the summit.
Headline-grabber: Well-supported Kolkata clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal share third, three points from the top, after both spurned the opportunity to put pressure on the leaders by being held to draws against Goa and Indian Arrows respectively.
Muang Thong United’s two-year reign as Thailand champions ended in emphatic fashion as Buriram PEA assumed the throne with four rounds to spare. The ambitious club, who added former Melbourne Victory midfielder Surat Sukha and Cameroon U-20 international Franck Ohandza to their roster this season, are 16 points clear following a 3-1 victory at Royal Thai Army. The former Ayutthaya-based club, previously named Provincial Electricity Authority, are also still in the running for both the League and FA Cups. The race is on for second as both Chonburi and Muang Thong remain in contention after weekend victories, with the former having a three-point lead although Robbie Fowler’s team have two matches in hand.
Japan’s Emperor Cup is edging closer to its traditional New Year’s Day denouement with several big scalps claimed in the Round of 16. Kawasaki Frontale tumbled out with a 1-0 loss to J.2 side Shonan Bellmare, while seven-times J.League champions Kashima Antlers did likewise against Kyoto Sanga. Yokohama F. Marinos scored the biggest win with a 4-0 triumph over third tier Matsumoto Yamaga, with Yuji Ono scoring a hat-trick. The biggest match of the round is yet to take place with FIFA Club World Cup participants and newly crowned league champions, Kashiwa Reysol, facing last year’s J.League kings Nagoya Grampus on Wednesday.
In Iraq, forward Jasim Mohammed Sulaiman struck the opener while playmaker Wissam Zaki was also on target as leaders Duhok came away with a 2-0 triumph at Kirkuk to maintain their unbeaten run after eight rounds. The outcome saw them lead the 20-strong standings with a three-point cushion ahead of Al Shurta, who have a match in hand. At the opposite end of the table, winless Kahrabaa remain rooted to the bottom after losing 3-2 at Bagdad SC - their seventh defeat from eight starts.
In New Zealand, Auckland City will go into the mid-season break with a handy three-point lead and a match in hand over their nearest rivals. The Oceania champions returned from the FIFA Club World Cup and maintained their perfect record with a 3-0 triumph over Otago United, although two goals came during injury time. Perhaps of equal importance was a rare loss for city rivals Waitakere United who went down 2-1 at Canterbury United, with the pair now sharing second.