Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cup competitions

The AFC President's Cup trophy
I've heard some news about the Hun Sen Cup and the AFC President's Cup which I'll mention below, though we're still waiting to hear the outcome of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) investigation into the events that took place in the AFC President's Cup Final in Taiwan, both before and after the final whistle. The suits at the AFC have been pondering this for some time now - the final was played on 25 September - more than two months ago, and yet we're still awaiting their final decision. Various AFC competition committees met this week and have ratified the competition rules for the 2012 AFC President's Cup, where Phnom Penh Crown will again represent Cambodia, after winning last season's Metfone C-League championship. The President's Cup will be competed for by twelve national league champions and the Group stage will determine the six teams that then qualify for the Final Group stage and then the Final itself, identical to what happened this time around. The initial Group stage at venues to be decided will likely be in May with the Final stage set for September, though confirmed dates will be known later. A new face in the competition for 2012 will be Mongolia, who will fill the void created after Myanmar clubs were granted a place in the AFC Cup. The Mongolian championship, decided in September, saw FC Ulaanbaatar win the title for the first time. Taking their leave of the AFC President's Cup will be Myanmar, whose application to join the AFC Cup was accepted by the AFC competition's committee. Their domestic league champions Yangon United now have direct entry to the 2012 AFC Cup while runners-up Ayeyawady United will compete in the four-team play-offs against Malaysia's knockout cup champions Terengganu in the East Zone, while FC Victory from the Maldives and Yemen's Al Tilal will contest the West Zone play-off. The winners of the play-offs will join the four losers from Round 2 of the AFC Champions League play-offs and the 26 other clubs in the group stage. With a fair wind, Myanmar could have two clubs in the latter stages of the AFC Cup. That could've been Cambodia, if our own FFC had got their finger out when the AFC asked for applications. Closer to home, the 2012 Hun Sen Cup will begin on 7 January with representative and club teams from the provinces fighting amongst themselves (not literally I hope) in five regional qualifying mini-leagues. The winner of each region (north, south, east, west and central) and three best runners-up will advance to the group stage. That's when the top 8 C-League teams (including Phnom Penh Crown) will join the fray, alongwith the 8 provincial reps, in 4 groups of 4 teams. These Group stage matches will begin on 20 January and last for a couple of weeks, with all matches being played in Phnom Penh. Following that, we enter the final eight-club knock-out stage. Further confirmation of dates, etc to follow in due course.

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