China, Finland meet in AFL  Cup

Finland's captain Mika Kupila - playing in Ballarat on Saturday

Finland's captain Mika Kupila - playing in Ballarat on Saturday

CHINA and Finland will go head-to-head in an AFL International Cup curtain-raiser at Eureka Stadium on Saturday.

The Chinese Dragons will be vying to set the stage for their host club Williamstown, which will face North Ballarat in the Victorian Football League.

The Chinese team has primarily drawn on players from the South China Australian Football League and most have only been playing for about 12 months.

It was a tough opening round assignment for the Dragons, who only notched up a solitary behind against a rampant Canadian men’s national team in Parkville on Sunday.

Finland had just as tough an introduction to the Cup. The Finns chalked up the first point of their game against United States Revolution and that was their sole score in a 181-point loss.

China and Finland each have one more assignment before travelling to Ballarat.

The Dragons play New Zealand and the Finns face Scandinavian rival Sweden on Wednesday.

AFL’s International Cup features 25 teams – 18 men and seven women’s teams – in the fortnight-long tournament.

Ireland Warriors are the reigning men’s champ-

ions but are tipped to face competition from New Zealand and the US.

Other nations include: Fiji, France, Indonesia, Great Britain, India, Japan, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Tonga.

The US and Canada are each fielding two women’s teams.

Most matches will be played in Melbourne but this weekend will also feature joint billing with matches in the Bendigo and Geelong football leagues.

The women’s grand final will be played at Punt Road Oval and the men’s title match will be the curtain-raiser to Hawthorn and Geelong’s AFL showdown at the MCG.


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