Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Looking back

In the wake of the recent draw for the AFC President’s Cup 2014 that will take place in Sri Lanka this September - the last ever edition - here's the highlights of a competition highly regarded throughout Asia for offering a platform for clubs from emerging nations. The AFC President’s Cup was first competed for in 2005, a move designed to afford an opportunity for the league champions of AFC’s emerging nations to feature in a competitive continental competition. The relevant clubs embraced the concept, and, with Asia watching on, duly started participating on a continental stage. Despite the AFC’s decision to bring the curtain down on the nine-year existence of the AFC President’s Cup, clubs from emerging nations will bid farewell to the competition safe in the knowledge that there are more opportunities in the offing. From 2015 onwards, the AFC has decided that the league champions from emerging nations can play in the AFC Cup qualification stage, and, therefore, showcase their talent at an even higher level.

The AFC President’s Cup journey began in 2005 when Regar TadAZ from Tajikistan defeated Kyrgyzstan's Dordoi Dynamo (now FC Dynamo) 3-0 to lift the inaugural title in Kathmandu.
Dordoi won the next two competitions in Malaysia and Pakistan, while Regar again reigned supreme in 2008 and 2009. The following year, Yadanarbon of Myanmar became the first winners of the competition from outside Central Asia when they defeated Dordoi 1-0 in Myanmar. Chinese Taipei became the first East Asian representative to win the competition in 2011 when Taiwan Power Company lifted the trophy in front of home support (beating Phnom Penh Crown 3-2), while subsequent wins for Tajikistan’s Istiqlol and Turkmenistan's Balkan in 2012 and 2013 ensured that there is still to be a winner from West or South Asia. Palestine’s Al Am’ari and KRL Football Club of Pakistan, did however make it into the finals in the 2012 and 2013 editions respectively. There are three representatives from South Asia in the upcoming and last edition of the competition, while DPR Korea's Rimyongsu are making their debut. Erchim of Mongolia and FC HTTU are making their appearances in the finals for the first time.

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