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Saturday, January 13, 2007

 

ASEAN Super League???

The other week on Football Focus John Dykes tantalizingly dangled the idea of an ASEAN super league under the viewers’ noses. While there has been no feedback it certainly got me thinking. Forget the 10 countries of ASEAN being involved, I can’t see the Philippines having the interest while Laos and Cambodia would probably lack the funds. Myanmar too, despite doing well recently on the international scene, may well be ostracized.

That would leave us wit Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei. It’s not as far fetched as it sounds. Until a few years back Singapore and Brunei featured in the Malaysia Cup. Recently saw Chonburi from Thailand playing regularly in Singapore while the Indonesia Under 23 team has been toying with the idea of playing in the S League.

But what about expanding it to cover the 6 countries? Everything says no, indeed screams no. imagine Jayapura represented Indonesia? That’s a nightmare for clubs in the Eastern Islands of Indonesia, having Hanoi visit would take a good couple of days. Serious! They’d have to fly Hanoi – Singapore – Bali – Makassar – Jayapura and those connections aren’t the best. Of course Jayapura could play their games in Jakarta which would be attractive for everyone except, perhaps, their own supporters.

Football is about tradition and rivalries. When European competition started in Europe teams like Honved and Dynamo Moscow were acknowledged powers. Over time Real Madrid, Inter and Benfica acquired their own aura of invincibility Euro wide, a shield that already covered them domestically. But here Jakarta, Selangor and Tampines Rovers are big fish locally but on a bigger stage create about as much excitement as a trip to the dentist. Thailand lacks fish of any size with teams like Royal Police and Air Force pulling in tens of fans locally.

Maybe in the short term a 2 Conference League would be the go? In the South we’d have Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei while up north there’d be Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Maybe some play off system at the end to determine the ASEAN champions. This could be run in tandem with domestic leagues or the teams could withdraw and concentrate purely on their Conference. This would allow the teams, notorious for struggling in Asian Club tournaments, a chance to improve themselves locally first instead of just being whipping boys for clubs from the Arab countries and North East Asia.

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