The stakes for the 2018 Super League title just got bigger.
In the latest update to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Club Ranking for the Member Association late December 1, Malaysia was placed in 13th spot but crucially in the East region, are placed sixth.
With 29.566 points, just 0.266 points ahead of Hong Kong, Malaysia will now get one automatic slot in the 2019 group stage plus one play-off spot.
Despite the defeats to DPR Korea last month, Malaysia managed to hold off the advances of Hong Kong after the latter failed to beat both Bahrain and Lebanon in the previous round of international matches.
The lure of the AFC Champions League as well as the prize that comes with etching a name in the history books as Malaysia's first participant in the group stage, teams in the 2018 Super League season will no doubt be vying all out for that coveted spot.
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) have won the last four Super League titles and looks on course to repeat the feat in 2018 unless the likes of Pahang, Kedah and Perak could muster a more sustained challenge in the upcoming season.
With the situation with Felda United remaining unclear, it would take a lot of stopping to deny JDT a name in the annals of history as the first Malaysian team in the AFC Champions League come 2019.