Teams increased in AFC President's Cup

LAHORE The champion of Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) 2010 will appear in the 7th AFC Presidents Cup 2011. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has expanded the event and 2011 as well as 2012 editions will feature 12 teams in three groups for the group stage. The top two teams in each group qualify for the six-team finals, instead of four-team final that was introduced in 2008. The AFC has divided the club competitions into three levels. The top tier will be the AFC Champions League, followed by the AFC Cup with the AFC Presidents Cup being the Tier-III of Asian club competition. The AFC Presidents Cup is not what it used to be before. The competition has evolved a lot and now a high standard of football is played, said Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat. I would say the only difference between the AFC Cup and the AFC Presidents Cup now is the difficulties presented by logistics and distance when it comes to the latter tournament, added Faisal who is also Chairman AFC Disciplinary Committee. Since the tournament began in 2005, the number of teams has increased from eight to 11. From editions 2005 to 2007, eight clubs were placed into two groups of four teams. Both groups would be played in one host country. Out of these two groups, the winners and runners-up would advance to the semi-final stage, again played in that host country. Eleven clubs appeared from 2008-2010. Therefore a qualification round was created and 11 clubs were placed in three groups. Two groups containing four clubs with the third group having three clubs. Each group would then be included in a different country, each having their own host. The group winners and the best runners-up would then qualify for the finals stage, again to be hosted in another country and played at a later date. Since the competition began, the eight founding nations to take part have been Tajikistan, Nepal, Taiwan, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Cambodia. Pakistan representatives in the event were Wapda (2005, 2008, 2009), Army (2006, 2007) and Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) (2010). Since 2008, clubs from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Turkmenistan have been invited. Other nations that could enter a team, but have yet to do so, are: Brunei, Timor-Leste, Laos, Philippines, Guam, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, Palestine and Afghanistan. Event historys powerhouse Dordoi Dynamo won the AFC Presidents Cup in 2006 and 2007 and lost in every other final to Tajikistans Regar Tadaz but the two will not be able to renew what has emerged as one of the most keenly contested rivalries in Asian club football after the current champions were beaten to the 2009 Tajikistan league title by FC Vakhsh.

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