By PADDY HIGGS
The 2015 AFC Asian Cup can be a "line in the sand" for football in Australia, believes the head of the tournament's Local Organising Committee.
Speaking at the draw of the competition's preliminary qualifying stages in Melbourne on Tuesday, LOC chief executive officer Michael Brown said the impact the tournament may have could not be underestimated.
"This is the biggest event in Asia, the biggest football event Australia has ever hosted and [a chance] for us to make a legacy for our sport in this country amongst so many other great sports," he said.
"For us to put football on the map in 2015… It's a great opportunity for the Socceroos, but also the people in Asia to understand and to enjoy our rich culture and the fantastic diversity we offer."
Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra will be the host cities for the tournament, held from January 5 to January 26, 2015.
Australia has already qualified as hosts, along with 2011 Asian Cup champions Japan, third-placed nation Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners North Korea.
It comes as a milestone in Australian football, with Football Federation Australia only joining the AFC in 2005.
"We know it's the world game, we know it's passion is shared across the globe, so as it comes to Australia there's a real part for it to play," Brown said.
"We look forward to the Asian Cup being that mark in the sand, where we show the world, we show Asia the things we can do with sporting events."
Brown's words mirrored those of AFC Asian Cup organising committee chairman Tengku Abdullah Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah: "This is a new milestone - a historical event for football," he said.
"We would like to see how football is received by the audience here… I believe that Australia will set a very high standard."