Wednesday, February 03, 2016


ASEAN Football's New Money

When I started Jakarta Casual 10 years and a bit ago there was no such thing as Muang Thong United or Johor Darul Takzim. They existed as Nong Jork and Johor FC and were nonentities on their domestic football maps, just two more clubs in aimless, drifting leagues low on cash and support.

Last night they went head to head in the AFC Champions League Qualifier in Thailand in front of some 11,500 fans including an estimated 200 travelling fans. I think it is fair to say there weren't many at the game last night who could recall the adventures of Nong Jork or Johor FC...if there were they must have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief for their clubs have been on quite a journey.

Cash helps of course. And not just on players. Both have developed or are developing an infrastructure that should allow them to continue to be successful for years to come. As long as their ionvestors don't tire of pumping money into them.

Muang Thong United have the funds of a media company behind them while JDT look to the state royal family for their cash. Both parties are used to getting their own way and both are used to success.

JDT of course lifted the AFC Cup last year, the first ASEAN side to lift the trophy and while Muang Thong have fallen behind Buriram United domestically in recent years, another wealthy investor who only knows success, they have continued to challenge for trophies and make an imprint on Asian club football.

In my cynical moments I look back on the last 10 years and think what a load of old bollocks it has been. Look at Malaysia's national team over the last 18 months, Singapore's struggling league, Indonesia and, um, yeah, Indonesia, while recent bickering in Thailand has seen a powerplay between the clubs and the FA.

Last night's tie however suggests that at least two clubs are getting things right off and on the pitch and in spite of the cack handed folks at their respective FAs. For those two clubs at least the last 10 years have seen massive changes. Their success perhaps can even, as the French say, encourage les autres to raise their game and strong clubs can of course have an impact on their FAs.

In some corners of South East Asia the last 10 years have been pretty stellar...who knows what the nnext 10 years will bring?!

Muang Thong won 3-0 on penalties...

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