South Melbourne v Guangzhou R&F
South Melbourne v Guangzhou R&F

South Melbourne friendly serves a timely reminder

LAKESIDE Stadium provided an insightful snapshot into Australian soccer's past and future.

A pre-season friendly between South Melbourne and Chinese Super League club Guangzhou R&F drew a midweek crowd of almost 2000, producing an entertaining game to boot.

NPL powerhouse South gave a stellar account of themselves, winning 3-0 in an entertaining and skilful, albeit physical match.

South Melbourne were named Oceania club of the 20th century, only several years before the Frank Lowy-inspired coup of joining the fast-growing Asian Football Confederation.

Sadly for South and a host of National Soccer League clubs who'd formed Australia's first national sporting competition and produced generations of internationals, their slice of history was airbrushed.

An aerial view oflast night’s South Melbourne v Guangzhou R&F clash. Pic: Tony Margaritis
An aerial view oflast night’s South Melbourne v Guangzhou R&F clash. Pic: Tony Margaritis

In 2018, South Melbourne's push to rejoin the professional Australian soccer leagues is as strong as ever, with Brisbane City and possibly more existing clubs to follow suit.

Expansion talk will heat up again in coming months, with a FIFA delegation due to visit Sydney at the end of the month to continue Congress negotiations which are dragging on and hurting the A-League.

An independent A-League - which will incorporate expansion - and second division are all on the agenda in 2018 once the political stalemate ends.

Things got heated between South Melbourne and Guangzhou R&F.
Things got heated between South Melbourne and Guangzhou R&F.

South Melbourne last night provided more evidence of why they have earnt the right to be part of the dialogue.

A strong contingent from the Chinese community attended and Guangzhou, led by world soccer great Dragan Stojkovic, provided a glimpse into the present and future for Australian soccer.

Next week A-League clubs will compete in the Champions League for the 12th time, and while clubs have taken it more seriously since Western Sydney's 2014 triumph, Australia still hasn't engaged with its Asian cousins.

More than 2000 showed for the friendly.
More than 2000 showed for the friendly.

Asian soccer is growing along with the collective power of clubs globally, as the Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup competitions gain more prominence.

The contest was edgy for a friendly, as goalscorer Milos Lujic and Nick Epifano were involved in melee just before halftime with a handful of Guangzhou players.

The good vibes returned at the break, as Melbourne's Chinese community took charge of the ceremony - as they did pre-game - highlighting South Melbourne's stellar work in engaging the community in recent years.

If this is the outcome of a pre-season friendly, imagine they clashed in an official match?


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