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AFC Champions League

Windsor says ACL expansion takes cue from Asian Cup success

5:02 AM GMT 31/10/2019
Dato Windsor John, AFC
Starting from 2021, the AFC Champions League will have two additional groups meaning extra slots for countries lower in the member club rankings.

The 2019 Asian Cup saw for the first time 24 teams competing for the biggest international prize in the continent and seeing the many positives that came with that expansion, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has earmarked the same to be done to their club competitions.

Improvements shown by the likes of Vietnam and Philippines seemed to have paved the way for AFC to believe an expansion to their existing AFC Champions League (ACL) and AFC Cup formats must be done. AFC general secretary Dato Windsor John is a firm believer that this latest development with set to benefit respective countries from a quality and facility standpoint.

"Naturally when we increased the number of slots for the Asian Cup and we saw the growth of the developing countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Kyrgyzstan showing us that they are not very far. Naturally we have to increase the CL as well, to motivate these clubs to challenge the top six.

"We all know that competitions drive development. So with that aim of inclusiveness, we increased the base. As presented, the top six remains the same because they are the elite clubs. The rest we are opening up to the others. One of the points to takeaway today is that if clubs are playing in the CL, they are forced to improve their faciilties.

"That drives the ball rolling, that you need to improve your facilities if you want to play in the CL. That itself will give us another eight countries or eight clubs who can improve their facilities. It's a very important decision that the exco made with the competition committee later this month that will hopefully drive development in those countries," said Windsor.

By virtue of being sixth in the member club rankings, Malaysia have one direct slot and one playoff slot in the ACL for two seasons in 2019 and 2020. The latest rankings indicates that Malaysia have dropped a rung, falling behind Philippines who have benefited from Ceres-Negros FC's success in the AFC Cup.

Before that would only mean two AFC Cup slots for Malaysia in 2021 but the with the expansion, that will see Malaysia still retain a direct slot to the ACL group stage and potentially another two slots in the AFC Cup. AFC are expected to hold a meeting later this month to iron out the details regarding this expansion.


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