Singapore could have an entrant in the region's flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League, with AFC set to discuss the topic at tomorrow's meetingEXCLUSIVE
by Bhas Kunju, Chief Editor
Tampines Rovers' hopes of representing Singapore at the 2014 AFC Champions League (ACL) will be decided on November 26, at the AFC Executive Committee meeting, Goal Singapore understands.
The 2013 S.League Champions are hoping to become the first Singapore side since Singapore Armed Forces FC (now Warriors FC), reached the group stages of Asia's flagship club competition back in 2010, after overcoming Sriwijaya FC of Indonesia and Muangthong United of Thailand in a gruelling two-round play-off.
The AFC meeting will discuss the possibility of expanding the ACL to include participation from more Member Associations (MAs) in wake of the successful 2013 campaign. The AFC Cup is also reportedly slated for an expansion with MAs outside of the top 23 allowed to apply for a position. Tampines are believed to have applied for participation in the 2014 ACL via the play-off route.
AFC regulations allow application from the top 23 MAs, with 16 slots available, two via play-offs. The top five MAs from the East and West zone are allowed direct application to the group stages if they accumulate a minimum of 600 points based on AFC criteria, with the evaluation system put in place in April 2012. Other MAs, if they have met the minimum criteria, are allowed to apply for a play-off spot. However the 2013 season did not see a strict enforcement of the rules.
Thailand's Buriram United were the only Southeast Asian representative at this year's competition reaching the quarter-final stage. China's Guangzhou Evergrande were crowned champions in the most watched ACL final ever.
AFC evaluators were recently in Singapore to assess the nation's capability of participating in next season's ACL. The outcome of the evaluation has not been released yet according to Football Association of Singapore (FAS), when contacted by Goal Singapore, but will likely be discussed on Tuesday, together with the fate of Tampines Rovers' participation.
As it stands, the Stags and Home United, as League and Singapore Cup champions respectively, are expected to participate in this year's AFC Cup, a competition for the regions's developing nations.
If both teams do enter the AFC Cup in 2014, it will mark the 7th time that both teams have participated in the competition, making them the most experienced team in next year's cohort.
Warriors FC and Tampines Rovers entered the AFC Cup at this year's edition, and both teams failed to impress, finishing bottom of their respective groups, with only the former registering a win during the campaign.