Saturday, June 30, 2007

Notes on the early years of the AFC Asian Cup

"The Asian Football Confederation was the brainchild of Dato Tunko Abdul Rahman, the late Prime Minister of Malaysia and was established in Manila, the Philippines, in 1954," wrote Yasir Abbasher in Gulf News.

The 12 founding members thought of means of spreading and improving the game of football in Asia and organising the Asian Cup was the biggest step they saw to achieve their goals. In 1956 the first edition of the Asian Cup was held in Hong Kong with the participation of only seven teams. The finals were held in a round robin format and South Korea won the first two editions of the tournament.

Israel won the title when it hosted the 3rd Asian Cup in 1964 but was pushed out of the AFC before the 5th version of the tournament in Thailand in 1972 which, surprise, marked the first participation of the Arab teams in the qualifiers. Iran dominated the next three competitions from 1968 to 1976.

And as the membership of the AFC increased from 12 to 48 teams through the years, the Asian Cup competition has developed to include more teams in the preliminary qualifiers.The final stage teams were increased in 1996 from eight to 12 and then to 16 in the 13th version of the tournament in China in 2004.

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