Lahore, 26 March: ” 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 and member AFC ExCo Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat who became AFC Legal Committee Chairman on 17 March 2011. He also congratulated Palestinian Football Association (PFA)’s President General Rajoub Jibril as Palestine clubs earned entry into the annual event. It will be Jabal Al Mukaber from the city of East Jerusalem, that plays in the West Bank Premier League.
The group matches of 7th AFC President’s Cup will be played from 13-31 May 2011. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the six-team finals to be played at a centralised venue four months later.
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 Laboartories (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.
Pakistan WAPDA, whose striker Arif Mehmood struck goals against India and Chinese Taipei in recently-concluded Group B of AFC Challenge Cup Qualifier, are pitted against Nepal Police Club (Nepal), Taiwan Power Company (Chinese Taipei), FC Nebitchi (Turkmenistan) in Group C whose all six matches will be played in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Titlist Yadanarbon (Myanmar) will have to navigate uncharted navigate uncharted waters after being drawn with debutants Jabal Al Mukaber Club of Palestine and Tajik club Istiklol in Group B which is completed by Bhutan’s Yeedzin FC, who played in the last edition too.
Yadanarbon edged past Kyrgyzstan’s Dordoi 1-0 in the last year’s final in Yangon but the inclusion of Jabal Al Mukaber in coming show is set to further spice up the competition. This is the first time ever a club from West Asia is playing in the AFC President’s Cup. Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Crown FC will play host to Group A, which also comprises Kyrgyzstan’s Neftchi Kochkor-Ata, Bangladesh champions Abahani and Sri Lanka’s Don Bosco Sports Club.
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..
GROUPINGS OF AFC PRESIDENT’S CUP (13-31 MAY 2011)
GROUP A: Phnom Penh Crown FC (CAM), Neftchi Kochkor-Ata (KGZ), Abahani (BAN), Don Bosco SC (SRI)
GROUP B: Yadanarbon (MYA), Istiklol (TJK), Jabal Al Mukaber Club (PAL), Yeedzin FC (BHU)
GROUP C: Pakistan WAPDA (PAK), Nepal Police Club (NEP), Taiwan Power Company (TPE), FC Nebitchi (TKM)