Focus On: 2014 AFC President’s Cup – Final Stage
The 2014 AFC President’s Cup is the third tier continental club competition in Asia, being placed behind AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, and it’s probably the weakest one in the world, maybe together with OFC Champions League.
This one will be the last Edition of this competion, because from next Season it will work as a Qualifying Stage for AFC Cup Play-off, so the teams that qualified for the Final Stage of this year should appear in the 2015 AFC Cup Play-offs, while there will be no Final Stage from 2015.
Only the clubs that won the League in their Countries (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Turkmenistan, North Korea, Taiwan, Philipines, Nepal, Mongolia and Cambodia), the weakest one in AFC, are entitled to enter this Competiton: first these eleven teams had to play a Qualifying Group Stage (two groups of four and one group of three teams) on a single round-robin basis at a centralized venue, then the winners and the runners-up of each group qualified for the Final Stage, that is currently played in Sri-Lanka and consists of two groups of three teams each one, whose winner will play the Final to win the Title.
In the past this Competiton, that had been established in 2005, had been bossed by teams from Tajikistan (4 Titles and 1 second place) and Kyrgyzstan (2 Titles and 4 second places), Regar TadAZ (TAJ) and Dordoi- Dynamo Naryn (TAJ) being the most successful clubs, but in this Edition there are no teams from these Countries because they have been upgraded to AFC Cup, so the favorite one should be the Club from Turkmenistan (HTTU Aşgabat), because teams from this Country have often ended in the first 4 and because Turkmeni National Team looks stronger than the other ones representing the Federations involved in this Competiton, but this year the Champion of North Korea (Rimyongsu) started playing in this Cup, and that could change the odds.
Considering that North Korea is doubtlessly the better National Team and that there are not many North Koreans playing abroad, few Internationals are part of Rimyongsu SC and so this club must be included among the great favorites, even if this is its debut in a continental competition; moreover, Sheikh Russel from Bangladesh looks quite competitive as well.
HTTU Aşgabat and Rimyonsu SC were in the same Group in the Qualifying Stage and the team from Turkmenistan ended first with 7 points, while the team from DPRK second with five points, but they drew when they faced eachother.
We have no intention to review the Fist Stage (anyway you can give a look at Wikipedia for the results), so we’ll focus on the Final Stage, that we’ll try to analyze for you !
HTTU Aşgabat (Turkmenistan)
Manang Marshyangdi Club (Nepal)
Sri Lanka Air Force SC (Sri Lanka).
Two matches have already been played: in the first one Manang Marshyangdi Club from Nepal defeated 1-2 in Colombo the host, Sri Lanka Air Force (6’ Ishan – 35’ Sh Shrestha, 64’ Gurung p.k), but then was defeated 3-1 (28’, 73’, 83’ Muhadow – 35’ Sh. Shrestha) by HTTU Aşgabat and now thet’re already out on goal difference.
The team from Turkmenistan should be able to advance even drawing or losing by just one goal, and it is the great favorite considering that is probably stronger and that it defeated the team that had beaten Sri Lanka Air Force in the first match, but the home team will rest two more days before playing.
The International Turkmen-Turkish University Football Club is based in the city of Aşgabat, the Capital of Turkemnista, and it has won Ýokary Liga 4 times so far.
The main players in the team are few Turkmenistani Internationals, the defenders Şöhrat Söýünow, Akmyrat Jumanazarow and Serdar Annaorazow, the midfielders Guwanç Hangeldiýew and Dawid Sarkisow (Captain), but the star is surely the striker Süleýman Muhadow, the top scorer of this competition with 8 goals (nobody else has scored for HTTU so far) and second one of the last Turkmeni Championship with 23 goals.
Manang Marshyangdi Club has been the winner of 7 Nepal A- Division League so far and is one of the leading club in the Country together with Three Stars Club and Nepal Police Club.
There are several Nepali Internationals, such as the goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha, defenders Sagar Thapa (he’s the Captain and one of the most experienced players both in this Club and in Nepal), Bikash Sing Chhetri and Sabindra Shrestha, midfielders Sujal Shrestha and Shiva Shrestha (few years ago he wanted to retire from football in order to become a Gurkha, a Nepali soldier in the British Army) and strikers Dipak Rai and Anil Gurung, one of the most popular footballers in the Country.
There are also four Africans, two from Cameroon (Jacob and Chico), one from Nigeria (Anatole Tsierry Zambo) and one from Ghana (Agbolade Emmanue).
Sri Lanka Air Force Sports Club, usually known as Air Force SC, is a team from Colombo and last season won its first Sri Lanka Football Premier League.
In its squad we can find four Sri Lankan Internationals: Dasun Paranavithana (goalkeeper), Charitha Mudiyanselage (defender), Kavindu Ishan (midfielder) and Nipuna Bandara (striker).
Rimyongsu SC (DPR Korea)
Sheikh Russel (Bangladesh)
Erchim is already eliminated after being defeated 1-0 (65’ Chigozie) by Sheikh Russel and 5-0 (20’, 65’ Ri Jin-hyok, 22’ Ri Hyok, 24’ Ri Kwang-hyok, 57’ Pak Song-chol ) by Rimyongsu SC, so everything will be decided in the final match between the team from DPRK and the one from Bangladesh, but the latter one will have to win anyway because a draw would make advance on goal difference the North Koreans, that so are clearly favorites, but they won’t have to take it too easy, because Sheikh Russell could be quite dangerous and will play after two more rest days.
The victory of Rimyongsu Sports Club in the last North Korean Championship was quite a surprise, because it probaly was the first triumph in their history, but it must be said that there aren’t plenty of data about football in this Country.
As you can imagine, there are no foreigners in this squad and the best players should be the Internationals Jang Song-Hyok (defender), Pak Song-Chol (midfielder, he played in 2010 WC, he’s the Captain and should be the star of the team), Jang Kuk-Chol, (midfielder), Kim Kyong-Il (midfielder), Pak Chol-min (striker, he played in 2010 WC) and Jong Il-Gwan (striker).
Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra won its first Bangladesh Premier League in 2012/13, so qualifying for 2014 AFC President’s Cup.
The key elements should be the Internationals Biplob Bhattacharjee (goalkeeper), Rezaul Karim (defender), Jahid Hasan Ameli (striker) and Mithun Chowdhury Mithun (striker).
Moreover there are also a Bosnian defender, Bojan Petrić (former Borac Banja Luka and FK Novi Pazar player) and a Nigerian striker, Kingsley Chigozie, anyway it looks that few foreigners have left the team during the Summer.
Erchim has been one of the most successful clubs in Mongolia since the second part of the 90’s, winning eight Niislel League.
The key players in the team from Ulan Bator should be few Mongol Internationals, such as the GK Ariunbold Batsaikhan, the defenders Bayasgalan Garidmagnai, Batmunkh Erkhembayar, Ganbold Bilguun and Tserenjav Enkhjargal (Captain), the midfielders Tuguldur Munkh-Erdene and Zorigt Battulga, and the striker Tsagaantsooj Enkhtur, who is 43 !
There is also a Serbian defender, Nikola Duricić.
The Final will be played on Thurday the 26th of September at 11.30 am CET.
You can watch for free all the matches live on AFC official YouTube Channel (The AFC Hub).