Sports Correspondent – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) will have to do a lot of work to restructure its clubs on modern lines in order to make them more competitive.
The Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Executive Committee on Wednesday approved a proposal to rank the Member Associations based on their national teams’ and clubs’ performance over last four years in the AFC competitions. Thirty percent of points will be allocated for national teams’ performances and seventy percent for the clubs’ showings, an AFC press release said.
Upon confirmation of the rankings, the MAs ranked 1 to 24 will be eligible to play in the AFC Champions League.
The MAs ranked 25 to 32 will be eligible to participate in AFC Cup group stage, while MAs ranked 33 to 47 will be provided an opportunity to play in AFC Cup playoff stage.
Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi said it was something the PFF was focusing on. “We are trying our best to restructure our club system. If you have strong club system, you will have better stuff and so automatically you will have a strong national team also,” Lodhi told ‘The News’ on Wednesday. “We will have to make our league strong and professional and improve our whole system,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a bid to provide opportunities to the member associations to be part of Asia’s flagship competition, the AFC Executive Committee decided to approve a proposal to increase the number of teams in the AFC Asian Cup from 16 to 24 from the 2019 edition.
The committee, which met under the chairmanship of the AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, in Kuala Lumpur, also decided to scratch the AFC Challenge Cup from the list of the AFC competitions.
The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, to be played in Maldives from May 19 to 30, will be its last edition. These competitions started in 2006. The AFC had already removed the slots from its calendar.
PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat also attended the meeting.
The proposal to increase rest days from one to two in the qualifiers and finals of the AFC U-16, U-19 and U-22 championships was also approved, but this will be implemented from 2017 onwards.
The committee also ratified the AFC Competitions Committee’s proposal to merge the preliminary qualification rounds for FIFA World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup.
Depending on the number of entries, the Member Associations will be divided into eight groups in the preliminary stage. The eight group winners and four second best teams among all the eight groups will qualify for the FIFA World Cup final round of qualifiers and also the AFC Asian Cup finals.
Presently, only ten teams battle it out in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary qualification round will compete for the remaining slots in the AFC Asian Cup finals in six groups of four teams each. The final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers will be separated.
The committee also approved recommendations from AFC’s standing committees, the new AFC Champions League and AFC Cup formats and the proposed amendments to the AFC Statutes, which will be presented to the AFC Extraordinary Congress in Sao Paulo on June 9 for approval.