A-League football team Melbourne Victory luckily kept alive its slim hopes of progressing through to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League with a 93rd minute equalizer against reigning J.League champion Kawasaki Frontale in their match at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium.
The day was something of a soccer landmark for Japan and Australia with Sydney FC hosting Kashima Antlers at Sydney Football Stadium, with the current Australian champion losing 2-0 at home.
All four teams will play return legs next week, with Kashima hosting Sydney and Melbourne at home to Kawasaki.
At Todoroki, Frontale looked to have the game in hand at full-time after having been the better team for the match, but unable to exert dominance over their plucky Aussie rival.
The crowd of 11,196 cheered endlessly for the Japanese champion, which had yet to open its account in this year’s AFC Champions League. Player of the Match Elsinho opened the scoring in 28th minute after the Aussies appeared likely to break at any time due to Kawasaki’s relentless pressure.
The lead didn’t last long, though, after Besart Berisha slotted in a Leroy George corner and sent the teams into half-time at 1-1.
The home team continued to control the game throughout a second half spent largely protecting a lead given by a Kyohei Noborizato goal at the 55th minute.
Surprisingly, just as the 3-minute extra time period was about to elapse, substitute Christian Theoharous was fouled in the box. George made no mistake from the spot, and Victory, which has not won in its last 18 ACL games away from home, headed back Down Under with a share of the points.
After three games, Group F standings are led by Shanghai SIPG and Ulsan Hyundai, followed by Melbourne and Kawasaki.
Koshigaya, located some 30 kilometers from downtown Tokyo, and Campbelltown, which is situated about 50 kilometers from Sydney’s central business district, were almost made for each other, even if only serving as satellite cities for their respective countries’ largest cities.
Koshigaya and Campbelltown are sister cities and it’s hard to see a better example of the custom than the relationship between the Japanese bed town and its Aussie sibling.
Koshigaya is also home to a picturesque corner of Australia, complete with wallabies, emus and some lovely wild birds, including rainbow lorikeets, superb parrots, Major Mitchell’s cockatoos, tawny frogmouths and kookaburras.
The Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds in Koshigaya could arguably be one of the Kanto Plains areas best-kept secrets.
Though only a small-scale park, the attraction is overall an excellent one as it gives a reasonably close view of some delightfully colorful (mostly) Australian birds in a fairly authentic aviary, the largest of its type in Japan.
Surrounding the aviary are plenty of gum trees, adding to the Down Under-flavor of the Saitama Prefecture city.
Koshigaya and Saitama became sister cities in 1984, one of the earliest formal relationships between local governments in Australia and Japan.
The Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds opened in 1995 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the sister-city relationship.
Campbelltown reciprocates with its Koshigaya Park, containing Japanese gardens.
Details of the Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds in Koshigaya are as follows:
Campbelltown Forest of Wild Birds(Japanese link)
272-1 Daikichi, Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, 343-0008
Open: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays, new year season holidays
Entrance fees: Adults 100 yen, children (primary and middle-school students) 30 yen
Related information on Koshigaya-Campbelltown ties
Campbelltown-Koshigaya Sister Cities Association
Campbelltown City Council page on sister city relations
Campbelltown-Koshigaya Sister Cities Association student delegates arrive to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their relationship
Campbelltown-Koshigaya friendship is 30 years young