Thai League 1: Buriram United bounce back with 4-0 thrashing of Chonburi, but Muangthong lose again

Buriram United Thai League

Buriram United have bounced back from an opening day defeat to newcomers Police Tero after thrashing Chonburi FC 4-0 in their second outing of 2020 Thai League 1 season.

Buriram, who are looking to reclaim the Thai domestic title after a disappointing 2019 season, had began the new campaign with a 1-0 defeat to the promoted Police Tero away at the Boonyachinda Stadium in Bangkok last week.

But, the Thunder Castles were at the top of their game in their first home game of the season at the Chang Arena in Buriram on Saturday condemning the Sharks to their first defeat of the season.

Meanwhile, Muangthong United, who also had lost to BG Pathum United in their opener, suffered their second straight defeat after going down 2-1 to True Bangkok United on Sunday.

Anon Amornlerdsak gave visitors Bangkok United the lead at the SCG Stadium in the 29th minute, but the Kirins came back to level the game, thanks to an own goal from Everton Goncalves at the hour mark.

However, a stunning strike from Thossawat Limwanasathian in the 74th minute sealed the win for Bangkok — their second from as many matches.

Meanwhile, Port FC climbed to the top of the table also with their second win — this time a 4-1 defeat of Samut Prakan City FC.

Bangkok United, newcomers Police Tero, who defeated  Trat FC 3-1 this week, and Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC, who edged Sukhothai FC 2-1, also have six points from two matches and occupy the subsequent slots.

Defending champions Chiangrai United had to settle for a second consecutive draw after being held 2-2 by Suphanburi FC while PT Prachuap FC and BG Pathum United played out a goalless draw at the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province Stadium.

Muangthong along with Trat FC and Rayong FC, who lost to Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda FC 2-1, are the clubs who are yet to open their account in the league and lie in the bottom three positions of the table after the second round.

(Photo credit: Buriram United)

Malaysia to have two clubs in group stages of AFC Cup 2021, MFL confirms

Hariss Harun talks clean sweep of accolades with Johor Darul Ta’zim in Malaysia

Malaysia will have two of its clubs in the group stages of the AFC Cup 2021, the Malaysian Football League (MFL) has confirmed.

This means that the country will finally have a club in the AFC Cup for the first time since 2018 when Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) FC represented them as the Malaysia Super League champions.

Malaysia did not have team in the 2019 and 2020 seasons of the AFC Cup as Malaysian domestic champions JDT were given a group stage berth in the AFC Champions League, Asia’s premier club football competition.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia FA Cup winners had qualified for preliminary stages of ACL in recent seasons.

However, the MFL has now confirmed the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has informed them that Malaysia will get two automatic slots in the group stages of next season’s AFC Cup.

The two slots in the second-tier continental competition will go to the FA Cup winners and the runners-up of the Malaysia Super League while the league winners will continue in the group stages of AFC Champions League.

“What’s for sure is that the additional slot to the AFC Cup will make the Malaysia Super League teams more competitive to fight for places in the Asian competition,” MFL executive officer Ab Ghani Hassan told New Straits Times.

Diogo scores hattrick as JDT thrash Balestier Khalsa 7-0 in friendly fixture


Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) FC defeated Singaporean outfit Balestier Khalsa FC 7-0 in a friendly fixture at the Sultan Ibrahim Larkin Stadium in Johor, Malaysia.

JDT are set to open their domestic campaign against Kedah FA on February 28 after a 5-1 defeat to J1 League side Vissel Kobe in their AFC Champions League 2020 opener while Balestier kick off their Singapore Premier League (SPL) campaign against Tampines Rovers on March 1.

Brazilian forward Diogo Luis Santo opened the scoring for the Southern Tigers in the 20th minute at their brand new home ground before Aidil Zafuan made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute. Mauricio then scored the club’s third in the 61st minute.

Diogo scored a quick-fire double in the 63rd and 65th minutes to complete his hattrick before Leandro Velazquez made it 6-0 in the 72nd minute. The final nail on Balestier Khalsa’s coffin came six minutes later when Hazwan Bakri sealed the 7-0 win.

The Super League match between JDT and Kedah next week will also double up as the one-off Piala Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah tie where Johor, the winners of the league, take on Kedah who were runners-up to them in the Malaysia Cup 2019.

(Photo credit: Johor Southern Tigers)

China set to play 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers ties in Thailand due to coronavirus concerns

China Thailand

China PR national team could play their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers ties scheduled to be held in March 2020 in Thailand, according to reports.

Team Dragon were originally scheduled to face Maldives at home in Group A of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers second round on March 26 followed by a trip to Guam on March 31.

But with the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) has been forced to move their home tie against Maldives to a neutral venue and it looks like Thailand are willing to host them for the qualification tie.

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Thailand 1-2 China PR – Gao Lin (71′)

CFA are also expected to invite Guam to play their home match in Thailand too as the United States have suspended entry of Chinese citizens to any of their territories due to coronavirus fear and the China national team will be expected to face difficulties to travel for the away fixture.

According to South China Morning Post, Buriram United’s Chang Arena will be used by China for their two World Cup Qualifiers ties.

The matches are expected to be played closed doors without fans, but a final approval from FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is pending.

China had also considered United Arab Emirates (UAE) to host their matches, but is said to have gone with the option of Thailand.

Syria currently lead Group A with 15 points from five matches while China are second with seven points from four matches. Philippines are third with seven from five matches while Maldives are fourth with six points. Guam are yet to open their account in the qualifiers.

Read more: Marcello Lippi resigns as China PR head coach following loss to Syria in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Vietnam maintain Asia Top 15 status in latest update of FIFA World Rankings

AFC U23 Championship Highlights – Jordan vs Vietnam

Vietnam continue their presence among Top 15 Asian nations in the latest FIFA World Rankings published on February 20, 2020, the first rankings update of the new year.

ASEAN champions Vietnam sit 94th in the world and 14th in Asia — two places above 96th-placed Kyrgyz Republic who are the 15th best side in Asia. Incidentally, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan are set to face each other in an international friendly next month.

Thailand are the second-highest ranked side from ASEAN in the world rankings occupying 113th position followed by Philippines in 124th position.

Myanmar are 134th in the world in the first rankings update of the new decade while Malaysia are the fifth highest-ranked Southeast Asian nation coming in at 154th position.

Singapore are 157th while Indonesia and Cambodia share the 173rd place in the FIFA World Rankings. Laos are 188th, Brunei Darussalam 191st and Timor-Leste 196th in the rankings.

Japan maintain their status as the top-ranked side in Asia sitting 28th in the world rankings while IR Iran are second in 33rd position. Korea Republic are No.3 in Asia with a ranking of 40 while Australia are 42nd.

Qatar complete the Top 5 with a ranking of 55th.


The Azkals to field developmental team in 2020 Philippines Football League season

Azkals PFL Philippines

The Azkals will field a developmental team during the 2020 season of the Philippines Football League with the objective of giving the country’s young players a platform to hone their skills.

The Filipino youngsters — named the Azkals Development Team (ADT) — will join the domestic league as the seventh team along with defending champions Ceres–Negros FC, Global Makati FC, Kaya FC–Iloilo, Mendiola FC 1991, Philippine Air Force FC, and Stallion Laguna FC.

The Azkals Development Team will predominantly feature players who represented the Philippines U22 national team at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games that they hosted late last year and will be coached by youth head coach Goran Milojevic.

Jarvey Gayoso, Curt Dizon, Marvin Angeles, Elias Mordal, Anthony Pinthus, Edison Suerti, Mar Diano and Kristofer Reyes are among the players who will be part of the ADT for the 2020 season.

“This is one of the answers to the clamour to improve our players before they get into the senior team,” said Philippines team manager Dan Palami.

The 2020 PFL season is scheduled to kick off next month with the winner getting a direct entry to the group stages of AFC Champions League 2021. 

(Photo credit: The Azkals)

FC Goa create history becoming first Indian club to book a place in AFC Champions League group stage

FC Goa

Indian club FC Goa have created history by booking a place in the group stages of AFC Champions League 2021 after emerging victorious in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) regular season. 

After finishing top of the table during ISL’s league phase, FC Goa will now represent India in ACL 2021 when Asia’s premier club football competition will be expanded to accommodate 40 clubs from its current 32-team format.

Up until 2020, it was the I-League winners who represented the country in ACL joining the qualification stages of the competition in Preliminary Round 1. However, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had replaced I-League with ISL, started in 2014, as the top tier league in the country recently.

While the winners of ISL regular season get a group stage entry in the expanded ACL starting this year, the ISL runners-up will take part in the AFC Cup 2021 qualifying play-offs and the I-League winners will book a place in the group stages of the AFC Cup.

FC Goa claimed a berth in the ACL and a first-ever ISL League Winners Shield by thrashing Jamshedpur FC 5-0 at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Wednesday with Ferran Corominas, Hugo Boumous (2), Jackichand Singh and Mourtada Fall scoring for the victors.

Goa finished the league with 39 points from 18 matches to qualify for the play-off stages. They are now on course to become the first Indian club to participate in the AFC Champions League tournament proper.

Former champions ATK have also secured a place in the ISL play-offs currently sitting second with 33 points from 17 matches followed by defending champions Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City with 29 and 26 points respectively.

“We are grateful and honoured by the opportunity to represent India in the ACL for the first time ever and we certainly won’t be taking it lightly. This was our goal for the last three years and now we’ve finally got there,” FC Goa president Akshay Tandon said.

(Photo credit: FC Goa)

Kyrgyz Republic replace Iraq as opponents for Vietnam in international friendly match

Kyrgyz Vietnam

Vietnam will face Kyrgyz Republic in an international friendly football match on March 26 after previous opponents Iraq had withdrawn due to coronavirus concerns.

The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) was originally to host the Iraq national team in the friendly fixture in Vietnam on March 26, a few days before the Golden Dragons faced Malaysia in a crucial 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers second round tie.

The VFF was forced to cancel the fixture after the Iraq Football Association (IFA) raised concerns regarding travelling to Southeast Asia amidst the COVID-19 outbreak that has wreaked havoc across the globe.

VAR comes to Vietnam’s rescue against United Arab Emirates

However, they have now found a replacement for Iraq with the Football Federation of the Kyrgyz Republic (FFKR) agreeing to travel to the ASEAN nation to play the match on the same date at either Binh Duong or Ho Chi Minh City.

“Immediately after the friendly against Iraq was canceled, VFF took intiaitves to find a new opponent to help Vietnam prepare best for World Cup Qualifiers tie against Malaysia,” the VFF said. 

“And this afternoon (February 19), the FFKR sent a reply agreeing to send their national team to play a friendly match with Vietnam on March 26,” it added. 

Kyrgyzstan are currently ranked 96th in the FIFA World Rankings and are second in Group F of 2022 World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers second round behind Japan and ahead of Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.

AFC Cup 2020: Bengaluru FC beaten 2-1 by Maldives’ Maziya; Neftchi edge Khujand 1-0

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC suffered a 2-1 defeat to Maziya Sports and Recreation Club in the first leg of their AFC Cup 2020 play-off tie at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives on Wednesday.

After a goalless first half, it was hosts Maziya who took the lead in the 64th minute through Maldives international striker Ibrahim Mahudhee who curled his shot past the hands of the diving Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

However, the 2019 Indian Super League champions were back level not much later when Deshorn Brown was tripped inside the box by Sharif Mukhammad in the 70th minute forcing the referee to point to the spot.

Spanish attacker Nili converted from the spot to restore parity in the first leg fixture, but Saint Vincent and the Grenadines international Cornelius Stewart scored the winning goal for Maziya with 10 minutes left on the clock.

The second leg of the South Asia Zone play-off will be played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on February 26 with the aggregate winner progressing to the group stages of AFC Cup 2020.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyz Republic’s PFC Neftchi defeated Tajikistan’s FK Khujand in the first leg of the Central Asia Zone play-off held at the Kurmanbek Stadium in Jalal-Abad earlier in the day.

Oleksandr Ihnatenko scored the only goal of the game for Neftchi in the 51st minute. The second leg will be held at the Pamir Stadium in Dushanbe on Februray 26.

(Photo credit: Bengaluru FC)

Former Indonesia U23 boss Indra Sjafri appointed technical director by PSSI

Indra Sjafri PSSI Indonesia

The Persatuan Sepakbola Seluruh Indonesia (PSSI), Indonesia’s national soccer body, has appointed former U23 head coach Indra Sjafri as their new technical director.

The 57-year-old Indonesian tactician previously helped the Indonesia U19 national team lift the AFF U19 Championship 2013 as well as guiding them to second place in both 2017 and 2018.

His most recent assignment came with the Indonesia U22 team helping them lift the AFF U22 Championship 2019 as well as winning the silver medal at the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year.

However, the PSSI had not renewed Indra’s contract following Garuda Muda’s defeat to Vietnam in the final of the 2019 SEA Games in Philippines.

“The PSSI executive committee meeting has named coach Indra as the new technical director. In the technical department, he will coordinate with [technical advisor] Danurwindo,” PSSI chief Mochamad Iriawan was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

A former midfielder, Indra represented PSP Padang during his playing days and has been with the Indonesia national team set-up as a coach since 2011 working with the U16, U19 and U23 sides.

PSSI chief Iriawan also confirmed that Indonesian local coaches Nova Irianto and Alex Aldha Yudi, as well as goalkeeping coach Sahari Gultom, will assist senior head coach Shin Tae-yong along with his compatriot Kim Hae-won.

Female referees to officiate Malaysia Super League matches for the first time in history


The Malaysia Super League and Premier League will for the very first time in its history see women officiating matches, according to Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). 

One female referee and one female assistant referee will be part of the 30-member team selected to officiate this season’s Malaysian Football League (MFL) action.

This was confirmed by FAM referees committee chairman Mohammed Dali Wahid to Malaysian news agency Bernama News.

“It is a move to promote female referees in the country. Both have passed the fitness test and other evaluation processes. In total, we have increased the number of match officials to 30 for the new season,” Dali Wahid was quoted as saying.

Rita Gani and Nur Akmal Anuar are the women referees who have been enlisted for duty in MFL this season.

The new season of Malaysian top division will kick off on February 28 with defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) taking on Kedah FA at the brand new Sultan Ibrahim Larkin Stadium in the opening match.

The match between the Southern Tigers and the Red Eagle will also double up as the one-off Piala Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah tie where JDT, the winners of the league, take on Kedah who were runners-up to them in the Malaysia Cup 2019.


India recommended as host for 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup by AFC Committee

AFC Women's Asian Cup

The AFC Women’s Football Committee has recommended India as the hosts of 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup following a meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wednesday.

India were in contention to host Asia’s premier women’s football competition along with Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan, but it looks like India are set to win the bid after the recommendation from the Women’s Football Committee.

India had previously hosted the 1980 edition of the AFC Women’s Championship, the previous iteration of the Women’s Asian Cup.  They are now set to become the first South Asian nation to host the continental championship.

India are also set to host the 2020 FIFA Women’s U17 World Cup from November 2 to 21 later this year.

“It was felt that India, who will also have the experience of hosting the FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup later this year, was best placed among the three bidders to maximise the promotion of the women’s game,” the AFC noted.

The 2020 edition of the tournament will be expanded from eight teams to 12 with the countries split into three pools for the group stages.

The DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, TransStadia Arena in Ahmedabad and Fatorda Stadium in Goa are the three stadiums that are proposed to host the matches in the Asian Cup.

India had previously hosted the AFC U16 Championship in 2016 and the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017.

Japan are the defending champions of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup having won the 2018 edition held in Jordan defeating Australia 1-0 in the final.

Read more: AFC Champions League to be expanded to 40 teams starting 2021 season

Al Sadd captain Hassan Al-Haydos out for three months after match-winning display in ACL 2020

Al-Haydos Al Sadd

Al Sadd SC captain Hassan Al-Haydos has been sidelined for three months due to an injury sustained during a match-winning display in the AFC Champions League 2020 on Tuesday.

Soon after their 3-0 win over IR Iran’s Sepahan SC at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, the Qatar Stars League (QSL) champions had announced on social media that Al-Haydos could be “ruled out for up to three months due to a foot injury.”

Highlights – Al-Sadd vs Sepahan

This means that the 29-year-old attacker could miss the remainder of the ACL 2020 group stage campaign for Xavi Hernandez’s Al Sadd as well as Qatar national team’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers ties in March.

Qatar are set to face India away on March 26 before hosting Bangladesh on March 31 in the 2022 World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers second round. They lead Group E of the qualifiers with 13 points from five matches — one ahead of second-placed Oman.

Al-Haydos had scored twice for Al Sadd in their 3-0 defeat of the Iranian side ensuring a first win for the Qatari club in the AFC Champions League this season.

Akram Afif had scored the opener for Al Sadd at the start of second half before Al-Haydos turned in a cross from Baghdad Bounedjah in the 72nd minute. The skipper then sealed the 3-0 win with his second six minutes later.

Australia name strong squad for 2020 Olympics play-off tie against Vietnam women

Australia Vietnam

Australia have named a strong 20-member squad for their 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers play-off tie against Vietnam scheduled to be held next month.

The Matildas had defeated Chinese Taipei 7-0 and Thailand 6-0 before holding China PR to a 1-1 draw to finish top of their group in third round of the Olympic Qualifiers held in Sydney earlier this month.

And Australia head coach Ante Milicic has named an unchanged 20-member squad for their final round of qualification for the women’s football competition of 2020 Tokyo Olympics that includes Chelsea superstar Sam Kerr, Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord and Melbourne City’s Emily van Egmond.

The Aussie women will face Vietnam in the first leg of the play-off tie at the McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on March 6 followed by the second leg at the Cam Pha Stadium in Quang Ninh on March 11. Meanwhile, Korea Republic will face China in the other play-off tie.

The winners of the two play-offs will join hosts Japan as Asia’s representatives at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Australia’s 20-member squad for 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers Play-off

Mackenzie Arnold (Brisbane Roar FC), Teagan Micah (Melbourne Victory), Lydia Williams (Melbourne City FC), Ellie Carpenter (Melbourne City FC), Steph Catley (Melbourne City FC), Caitlin Foord (Arsenal FC), Emily Gielnik (Bayern Munich), Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar FC), Elise Kellond-Knight (Brisbane Roar FC), Alanna Kennedy (Sydney FC), Sam Kerr (Chelsea FC), Chloe Logarzo (Bristol City), Aivi Luik (Melbourne City FC), Jenna Mccormick (Melbourne Victory), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar FC), Hayley Raso (Everton FC), Karly Roestbakken (Canberra United), Kyah Simon (Melbourne City FC), Emily van Egmond (Melbourne City FC), Tameka Yallop (Brisbane Roar FC)

(Photo credit: Westfield Matildas)