Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Asian continental tournament developments

The Asian Football Confederation has divided its 45 member nations into three different levels and created club competitions for each level. The top 14 'mature' associations play in the AFC Champions League, the next 14 'developing' associations compete in the AFC Cup and the remaining 17 'emerging' association take part in the AFC President's Cup.

AFC Champions League

Twenthy-eight teams qualify for the AFC Champions League by becoming national league champions or winners of a national cup competition. Apart from the title, they compete for US$ 500,000 prize-money and a place in the FIFA Club World Championship.

In 2005 the clubs represented China, Korea, Kuwait, Japan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Syria (promoted from the 2004 AFC Cup competition to replace Bahrain which had been banned following the withdrawal of both its teams from the AFC Champions League 2004).

The A-League's head of operations, Matt Carroll, told the Sydney Morning Herald's Michael Cockerill he will be surprised if Australian clubs are admitted to next year's Asian Champions League. There have been growing signs in recent weeks that the 2006 ACL will be out of bounds to A-League clubs, partly because Australia will not officially be a member of the Asian Football Confederation until 1 January 2006.

"It now seems likely that A-League clubs will have to wait until 2007 to join the lucrative competition, although there is one consolation. By then, the ACL is set to be expanded from 28 to 32 teams, and Australia may have its own representation increased from two to three clubs," Cockerill reported.

AFC Cup

AFC Media reports a "scintillating brace" by Khaled Al Maaltaah helped Jordan’s Al Faisaly lift the 2005 AFC Cup by defeating Al Nejmeh of Lebanon 4-2 on aggregate following a 3-2 win in the second away leg here on Wednesday at the Beirut Municipal Stadium. The trophy will reside in western Asia for the second consecutive year after Syrian club Al Jaish won it in 2004.

AFC President's Cup

The AFC held the first President's Cup for clubs from 'emerging' footballing nations at Kathmandu, Nepal, last May with Tajikistan’s Regar TadAZ winning the trophy.


UPDATE

AFC Challenge Cup

The AFC now plans to launch a further competition to assist the development of the game in the continent's 'emerging' football nations. Unlike the AFC Presidents Cup, the new AFC Challenge Cup is a competition for national teams.

The competition will feature 17 countries and will be held on a biennial basis in a single country, with all expenses to be borne by AFC. Bangladesh, Nepal and India have already shown their interest to host the inaugural edition. There will be no qualifying encounters and all 17 teams will go directly into the competition.

According to Football Pakistan, the nations selected to compete are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan and Timor Leste.

See also: AFC tips more tournaments for South Asia nations (22 Oct)

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