Asian boss ‘stunned’ by anti-Aussie report

By Talek Harris ,AFP

SYDNEY — Asia’s soccer chief said he was ��stunned�� on Friday after he was quoted as outlining a movement to oust Asian Cup hosts Australia from the regional body. Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said his comments had been ��manipulated�� after he told UAE newspaper Al Ittihad that some countries wanted Australia out. Australian newspapers splashed with the story, a day before the Socceroos take on South Korea in the Asian Cup final as they try to win the title for the first time. ��I’m really stunned with the timing to bring this topic out. It’s a false topic,�� the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president told the Herald Sun newspaper. ��To read a story like this is really sad because there’s no truth in it. ��The success of this tournament has exceeded our expectations. I won’t let a story like this affect the success of the tournament we had in Australia.�� Australia’s soccer boss David Gallop had said he was ��extremely surprised�� at Shaikh Salman’s comments to Arabic-language Al Ittihad. The newspaper quoted the Bahraini royal as saying some AFC members in West Asia and beyond are opposed to the involvement of Australia, which joined from Oceania in 2006. ��There are other Asian associations in different regions of the continent that see the need of disengagement between us and Australia,�� Shaikh Salman was quoted as saying. ��Therefore we can’t just monitor the feedbacks or statements, but the movement and the decision should be from within the AFC Congress, because it’s the authority that can make the decision of reconsidering Australia joining Asia or any other decision.��