Aussie state team returns to regional China in 2006

Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, will continue to strengthen football ties between its capital, Melbourne and Chinese sister city, Tanjin, when the cream of its state-league semi-pro talent returns to China for a two match series in March 2006.

Mens and Womens teams have made the trek for several years, while last year saw a two-legged series played between Chinese side Tanjin Teda and Football Federation Victoria’s state team in Tanjin and Melbourne.

The opening game in Melbourne saw the home side capture 1-0 victory. A big crowd was on hand for the return leg in China when the Victorians drew 1-1, gaining an all important away goal, handing Victoria the series 2-1 on aggregate.

Football Federation Victoria is affiliated to Football Federation Australia.

Team Manager George Angelopoulos has fond memories of the series. “We have built a really great relationship with Tianjin Teda, a relationship that we hope will grow for years to come,” he told Asian Football Business Review.

“With Australia’s entry into the Asian Football Confederation this year, it opens up a number of opportunities for our sport. We can learn from emerging nations like China and they can learn from us in a host of different areas of the game,” he said.

The Victorian state team showed promising form in a recent friendly series against Hyandai A-League club, Melbourne Victory. Despite being out of season, the Victoria side took on the fully professional Victory outfit and won the second game of the series to tie it up at one win each.

Football Federation Victoria Head of Commercial Operations Michael Zappone is excited by the opportunities the series brings. “We were proud to be partnered with Vodafone for last year’s series and we are again looking to the market place for a strong multi-national brand to come on board as a sponsor of the Victorian side for the tour,” he told AFBR.

Melbourne Mayor John So, who is of a Chinese background, has been a strong supporter of the series and the City of Melbourne again joins Football Federation Victoria as a supporter of the event. The first game of the 2006 series is against Tianjin Teda on 3 March and the second against the newly promoted team from Xiamen.

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