News on Ballarat's bid for Asian Cup to come next week

BALLARAT could know as early as next week what nation it will host for an Asian Cup pre-competition camp next year.

With the draw for the 2015 Asian Cup to be held tonight, it is expected the announcement of which cities will be selected as host venues will soon follow, according to Back the Bid chairman Duncan Smith.

Highly confident Ballarat would at least host one of 16 teams that have qualified for the soccer tournament, Smith said there was no reason why Ballarat would not be perfect for a top-end side (namely Japan, Australia, South Korea or China).

He said sides normally nominated their preferred host city within days of the draw being released.

“There has been no official word yet, but I’m hoping we could find out as early as next week,” Smith said.

Rating Ballarat as the second best host city in Australia, behind only Woollongong, Smith said the fact Ballarat was not a capital city could actually play in its favour.

With top nations likely to be swamped by fans if they were to hold camps in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, Smith said the fact Ballarat was a lot quieter could serve as more of an incentive for a team to base themselves here.

“These are elite athletes, they’re coming here to win a tournament,” he said.

“They’re not coming for a holiday, they’re not coming to see what the best pub is or to be swamped by fans. They are here to win.”

A 20-page brochure detailing all of Ballarat’s positives for attracting teams was sent around to all competing countries last week, which Smith believed shone Ballarat in the perfect light.

“We think it’s a pretty compelling document. The stadium is the big (positive), our pitch is as good as any other in Australia and we’ve got the two synthetic pitches to go with it,” he said.

The Asian Cup draw will be held at the Sydney Opera House from 7pm, with the tournament to be held in January next year.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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