Asia’s top 5 football rivalries

Man United vs Liverpool, Real Madrid vs Barcelona, and Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund are all games that that are guaranteed to get the passions of their fans running high.

But it’s not only Europe where fans and players can get carried away over the beautiful game. FOX Sports Asia looks at some of the region’s fiercest footballing rivalries.

Thailand v Vietnam

Perhaps one of the biggest rivalries on the South East Asian territory, the countries have been squaring off on the field since 1995.

Unfortunately for the Golden Stars, Thailand has dominated the head-to-head since that 3-1 victory in the South East Asian Games in 1995, a competition they would go on to win.

Since then, the War Elephants have notched up 13 wins against Vietnam, who only have two wins.

Vietnam’s most memorable win was in the final of the 2008 AFF Championship, when a 2-1 win in the first leg in Bangkok set them up for their first ever title, which they secured after a 1-1 draw.

In an indication of how much it means for one set of fans to beat the other, 25 Thailand fans were arrested in Laos in 2015 following clashes during an AFF U-19 Championship final match between Thailand and Vietnam.

The fighting began after Thailand scored the opener, Thai fans lit flares before Vietnamese fans responded by throwing bottles.

Thailand eventually won the tie 7-0. Ouch!

Hong Kong v China

This rivalry goes back over 30 years and is one exacerbated by Hong Kong’s separation from China and eventual sovereignty in 1997.

Early clashes between the nations were so fiery that one resulted in China’s first known case of football hooliganism.

In a 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification match where the winner would advance, Hong Kong won 2-1 in Beijing. As a result, Chinese fans began rioting and blocked the Hong Kong fans from leaving the stadium.

In 2016, a series of provocations lead to Hong Kong fans booing the Chinese national anthem during a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match. The Hong Kong Football Association has been fined twice for the offence and riot police are now present for almost every clash.

Esteghlal FC v Persepolis FC

These Iranian clubs feature in the annual Sorkhabi Derby and first clashed in 1968.

Fuelling the fire of the rivalry is the clubs’ fan bases, who are traditionally from vastly different backgrounds. The Persepolis faithful is largely made up of the working class, while Esteghlal fans represent the financial elite.

One of the most intense matches between the clubs was in December 2000, where Esteghlal stopper Parviz Broumand punched Persepolis striker Payan Rafat in the face after a series of insults. This lead to an on-field brawl.

The fans then had their say after the match, where hooliganism lead to the destruction of no less than 250 buses. Three players and 60 fans were arrested in the aftermath.

Malaysia v Indonesia

These proud nations have one of the longest standing rivalries in Asia, having faced off no less than 95 times since 1957.

Indonesia earned one of their first pieces of silverware at the 1991 South East Asian Games. The Garudas would roll over Malaysia 2-0 in the group stages of the competition and progress all the way to the final, where they defeated Thailand.

However, Malaysia would get their own back in the first leg of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup final. The rivals played in front of an enormous crowd of over 98 000 in Kuala Lumpur. A second half blitz from Harimau Malaysia saw them cruise to a 3-0 win.

While Indonesia would come back from a goal down in the second leg to win 2-1, it was too little too late as Malaysia earned their first AFF Championship title.

Indonesia lead the head-to-head ever so slightly with 39 wins to Malaysia’s 35, making it one of the most hotly contested rivalries in world football.

Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC

The fact that both clubs play in blue lead to the derby known as The Big Blue. Added to that, the ‘blue’ is ambiguous as it means ‘fight’ in Australian slang.

The A-League clubs regularly attract the largest crowds and television audiences for the season. In 2006, over 50 000 fans crammed themselves into the Docklands Stadium for a goalless draw, which is still an A-League record.

The high attendance was largely due to the previous encounter, where tension and passion fueled the match. After Sydney FC captain Mark Rudan was sent off, Fred then elbowed Rudan’s teammate Mark Milligan in the throat, which required significant medical attention and rallied the Sydney faithful.

In the 39 meetings between the two, Melbourne has claimed 13 wins to Sydney’s nine, while both have won one A-League Grand Final against each other.

With Australian pride on the line, the future is sure to see many more great clashes between these two clubs.

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