SYDNEY // From the outset, Western Sydney Wanderers’ first Asian Champions League campaign has been a leap into the unknown.

That perhaps explains the club’s lack of trepidation ahead of Saturday’s championship first-leg match against Saudi Arabia’s biggest club, Al Hilal.

In contrast to the no-frills team from Sydney’s working-class west, founded only two years ago as an expansion club in Australia’s top-flight A-League, Hilal boast a rich heritage, powerful connections in the Saudi royal family and a trophy cabinet crowded with domestic silverware and two Asian titles.

The Wanderers have demonstrated that reputations count for nothing on game day, having overcome Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande and FC Seoul in the knockout rounds.

In facing Hilal, Wanderers defender Antony Golec suggested ignorance was bliss.

“I wouldn’t have a clue who they are to be honest,” Golec said this week. “I’ll let them do the Googling on us.

“It doesn’t concern me if they’re the best club in the world or the worst. We just focus each day and then we’ll take the game as it comes.”

Since arriving in Sydney, Hilal have done little to shed any light for their opponents, or endear themselves to local media, as they have been holed up in a luxury hotel near the Sydney Harbour bridge and have declined interview requests.

Local media reported that Hilal rejected the more thrifty Wanderers’ first offer of a five-star hotel, another element of a storyline emphasising a game matching local blue-collar battlers and pampered tourists.

Hilal’s coach, the Romanian Laurentiu Reghecampf, appeared at the mandatory ACL news conference yesterday and said: “It’s the final and everything is possible.

“The two best teams get to the final, that’s why it will be 50-50.

“We are a very big team, one of the biggest teams in Asia, but that is not enough to win one game. History is not playing. We have to do it.

In Parramatta Stadium, a 20,000-seat suburban ground a world away from Sydney’s glittering harbour, Hilal are likely to feel a hostile reception from Wanderers supporters, regarded the most vociferous soccer fans in Australia.

The faithful roared throughout a 2-0 home win in the second leg of the semi-final against Seoul.

Tony Popovic, the Wanderers’ coach, said he expected his team’s fans to help push the team to a solid lead before the return leg at Riyadh next week against Hilal, who lost the away leg of their last-four encounter against Al Ain, 2-1.

“All around the world, we’ve seen how important the home crowd can be and how intimidating it can be and you know our fans can match it with the best,” Popovic said.

“They make it a real cauldron there so the opposition feels that they are at an away venue with everything against them, and that’s how it should be.

“We’re hoping for that again.”

Popovic is waiting on the fitness of forward Brendon Santalab, who strained a hamstring in an A-League game against Sydney FC last week, but should have striker Tomi Juric, the team’s leading scorer last season, and defender Matthew Spiranovic available after injury concerns.

Hilal, with Brazilian midfielder Thiago Neves pulling the strings and the pacey Nasser Al Shamrani an attacking spearhead, have the firepower to score in Sydney to set up their bid to join South Korea’s Pohang Steelers with three ACL titles.

The winner of the final will travel to Morocco in December for the Fifa Club World Cup.

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The announcement follows Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s visit to the Kew Gardens on Friday morning, where he viewed landscape and plant paintings of Singapore by English artist Marianne North.

Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam (R) receives a print of “A Lane in Singapore” as a gift from Lord de Mauley (L) in the Marianne North Gallery during a visit to Kew Gardens in West London. (AFP/JUSTIN TALLIS)

LONDON: Singapore and the United Kingdom have reaffirmed their commitment to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and address the impact of climate change in their countries, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Friday (Oct 24).

This announcement followed President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on Friday morning. At the gardens, Dr Tan viewed landscape and plant paintings of Singapore by the prolific English botanical artist Marianne North during her travels around the world.

Kew and the Singapore Botanic Garden began collaborating from as early as 1875. In 1877, a batch of Para Rubber seedlings was sent from Kew to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The seedlings were grown and eventually dispersed throughout the region, sparking a “rubber revolution” in Southeast Asia.

Today, both gardens collaborate regularly on multinational projects – with common interests in plant diversity and the conservation of Southeast Asian tropics. Kew also assisted with Singapore’s bid to get Singapore Botanic Gardens recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site by providing valuable material from their archives.

MFA said both countries remain committed to achieve a new agreement in Paris in 2015, with the goal of keeping the global average temperature rise within 2°C of pre-industrial levels. It said the agreement should be an inclusive one which allows all nations to make a responsible contribution to tackling the climate change challenge.

President Tan also paid a visit to Lloyd’s of London and had lunch with representatives of the insurance giant. Singapore is Lloyd’s second global trading hub and houses Lloyd’s Asia – the largest direct insurer in Singapore.

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This undated handout photo provided by Nature Magazine shows stencils of hands in a cave in Indonesia. Ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are as old as famous prehistoric art in Europe, according to a new study that shows our ancestors were drawing all over the world 40,000 years ago.
Associated Press

Earlier this month a team of Indonesian and Australian archaeologists co-led by Maxime Aubert, a Canadian researcher at Australia’s Griffith University, published groundbreaking findings in the journal Nature: stencils of human hands and animal paintings found in seven limestone caves in South Sulawesi may be among the oldest ever discovered.

The team used a uranium-thorium technique to date the bumpy layers of calcium carbonate – known as cave popcorn – that had formed on the surface of the paintings. The technique gave them a minimum age of 39,000 years, making the underlying art at least as old.

The finding is notable because cave art from Sulawesi was previously thought to be far younger. Mr. Aubert said two theories have emerged post-research on its origins — either it arose independently in Indonesia or came from early humans leaving Africa who already had the capacity to make such art work.

The Wall Street Journal asked Mr. Aubert  via e-mail about his work in Indonesia, future research plans, and what inspired him to be an archaeologist. Edited excerpts.

Associated Press

WSJ: What brought you to the cave in Maros, South Sulawesi, in the first place?
Mr. Aubert: Adam Brumm and Thomas Sutikna, both archaeologists and co-leaders of the study, were digging a cave in the local area in 2011 and visited a site where they noticed small cauliflower-like protuberances covering some hand stencils. They asked me to come over in 2012 and these turned out to be coralloid speleothems (“cave popcorn”), which are ideal for uranium-series dating. The cave popcorn is a common feature in the caves but only rarely formed over rock art, so we had to do a great deal of fieldwork to track down suitable samples for dating.

WSJ: You said in an interview with Nature Magazine, which published the study, that this finding “allows us to move away from the view that Europe was special.” What does that mean then do you think for Indonesia?
Mr. Aubert: Indonesia has an extremely rich and deep cultural heritage. It will certainly continue to play a center role in understanding the origin of our species.

WSJ: You’ve also started exploring parts of Borneo. Can you talk about your work there and where else you’re looking?
Mr. Aubert: I started a project in Kalimantan working with researchers at ARKENAS [the Center of National Archaeology under Ministry of Culture and Tourism] and Dr. Pindi Setiawan from [Bandung Institute of Technology]. We visited several caves and I sampled calcite coatings overlaying paintings of naturalistic animals and hand stencils. I recently secured funding for three years from the Australian Council to date rock art in Southeast Asia.

WSJ: Mining and other industrial activity have damaged the caves in Sulawesi. What role do you think the government has in supporting this kind of research now that it’s likely to draw more outside interest?
Mr. Aubert: Conserving and protecting the art is a primary concern of the local, Makassar-based branch of Indonesia’s national cultural heritage authority. Almost all of the 100 registered rock art sites are off-limits to the public, but a small number are open to tourists. For instance, in the Leang-Leang Archaeology Park, located close the to some of the sites we dated, visitors are guided to the sites by trained staff members of the Preservation for Heritage Authority. The Maros-Pangkep karsts (including the rock art) is already inscribed on the tentative list of World Heritage sites. We hope that this finding will significantly increase its chance for World Heritage listing.

WSJ: What makes the cave art in Sulawesi different from the one found in Europe?
Mr. Aubert: In Europe we have a lot of information about the first human populations to reach the continent whereby in Sulawesi, we know very little about the culture who made these paintings.

WSJ: What inspired you to be an archaeologist?
Mr. Aubert: I was always curious about the past and exploring new places.

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  • Palawan claimed top spot based on over 76,000 votes in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014
  • It was largely thanks to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, one of the top natural wonders of the world
  • At nearly five miles in length, Puerto Princesa is the second longest subterranean river in the world

Chris Kitching for MailOnline



An island that boasts crystal clear waters, incredible beaches and one of the newest natural wonders of the world has been named the best in the world by readers of a leading travel magazine.

The idyllic island of Palawan in the Philippines claimed top spot based on over 76,000 votes in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014.

And it’s largely thanks to its latest claim to fame: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a Unesco World Heritage Site, has been named one of the world’s best natural wonders.

Stunning: Palawan Island in the Philippines has been named the top island in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a Unesco World Heritage Site, has been named one of the world’s best natural wonders

Best in the world: The idyllic island of Palawan claimed top spot based on over 76,000 votes

Undersea adventures: Palawan is home to some of the best locations for snorkelling and diving


  1. Palawan Island, Philippines 
  2. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  3. Maui, Hawaii
  4. Kauai, Hawaii
  5. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
  6. Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, Australia
  7. Santorini and Cyclades, Greece
  8. St. John, US Virgin Islands
  9. Kangaroo Island, Australia
  10. Big Island, Hawaii 

At nearly five miles in length, Puerto Princesa is the longest underground river in Asia and the second longest in the world.

Visitors on guided boat tours travel through a subterranean cave system featuring large chambers, stalactites and stalagmites. 

Home to amazing locations for snorkelling and diving, Palawan province has a second Unesco World Heritage Site that is popular spot for undersea adventurers –Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park.

Palawan’s beauty and thrilling outdoor or undersea adventures are no secret to the world.

It was once named of the best islands in the world by National Geographic Traveler.

Getting there isn’t too difficult by air – the average flight lasts around 75 minutes – but a ride on a ferry boat takes around 24 hours. 

The island is known as the Philippines’ ‘last frontier’ because it is part of the far western Palawan province, with its southern tip just north of Malaysia.

Palawan Island edged some of the most popular destinations in the world for top spot on the list of the world’s 30 best islands.

Breath-taking: Tourists walk on a beach as a rainbow forms in the background

At nearly five miles in length, Puerto Princesa is the longest underground river in Asia and the second longest in the world

Palawan edged some of the most popular destinations in the world to claim top spot on the list of the world’s 30 best islands

Rugged beauty: Palawan is a popular base for island-hopping tourists

Tourists can reach Palawan by plane or ferry with flights from Manila lasting just 75 minutes

Kiawah Island, South Carolina, came in second, followed by the islands of Maui and Kauai in Hawaii. Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique rounded out the top five.

Sixth through tenth were Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands in Australia, Santorini and Cyclades in Greece, St. John in the US Virgin Islands, Kangaroo Island in Australia, and Big Island in Hawaii.

None of the UK’s islands managed to crack the top 30.

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