WAPDA to make 5th appearance: Palestine club to make debut in 7th AFC President’s Cup 2011

AFC President's Cup logo

Lahore, 30 Jan : ” The standard of the AFC President’s Cup is getting closer to the AFC Cup. It is my belief and hope that this competition will be gone one day. The clubs playing in AFC President’s Cup have matured and will be able to play at the higher level such as the AFC Cup, and even the AFC Champions League, in the future.” This is stated by PFF’s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat and AFC EXCO member who congratulated Palestinian Football Association (PFA)’s President General Rajoub Jibril as Palestine clubs earned entry into the annual event.

The AFC President’s Cup and Challenge Cup Organising Committee, under the chairmanship of Ganesh Thapa, approved the participation of Palestine clubs in the AFC President’s Cup in the presence of AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam and FIFA Vice-President Dr Chong Mong-joon. PFA had expressed its interest in AFC Club Competitions and the committee endorsed the participation of Palestinian clubs in the AFC President’s Cup from 2011 onwards and they will make debut when the first round will be held from 5-15 May 2011.

AFC President's Cup trophy

Since the competition began, the eight founding nations to take part have been Tajikistan, Nepal, Taiwan, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Cambodia. Pakistani representatives in the event are Pakistan WAPDA (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011), Pakistan Army (2006, 2007) and Khan Research Laboratories (2010). Since 2008, clubs from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Turkmenistan have been invited. Other nations that could enter a team, but have yet to do so are Brunei, Timor-Leste, Laos, Philippines, Guam, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea and Afghanistan.

Event history’s powerhouse Dordoi Dynamo, who played back-to-back six final, won the AFC President’s Cup in 2006 and 2007 and lost the final in 2005, 2008, 2009 to Tajikistan’s Regar TadAZ but the two were not able to renew that in 2010 what has emerged as one of the most keenly contested rivalries in Asian club football after Dordoi were beaten by Myanmar’s Yadanabon.

Yadanarbon fairy tale run in the AFC President’s Cup came in for praise from PFF Chief. “ The upshot of Yadanarbon’s victory could be a general quickening in the pace of AFC President’s Cup teams yearning to climb up the club competitions’ ladder. Now that the hoodoo has been broken, the Myanmarese side’s win at Yangon’s Youth Training Centre on 26 September 2010 is sure to embolden other non-Central Asian outfits, and inspire other clubs them to approach AFC’s third-tier club tournament with a confident stride.” added Faisal who is also FIFA and World Disciplinary Committee member and Chairman AFC Disciplinary Committee.

Qualification to the competition is allowed to clubs from AFC-affiliated countries which fall into the AFC’s ’emerging nations’ category as laid out in their ‘Vision Asia’ document. Countries which are ‘mature’ and ‘developing’ nations are entered into the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup, respectively. For an ’emerging nation’ to have a team representing it in the competition, however, the country must have an acceptable football league. The team that represents a country in one season of the competition is the defending champion of the top-level leagues of participating countries,” concluded Faisal.