FAM plan to appeal AFC Cup slot for 2020, not next year

Nicolas Anil

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) general-secretary Stuart Ramalingam confirmed the national body are not appealing for clubs to gain automatic entry to the AFC Cup for next season, but for the next cycle in 2020.

“It is impossible for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to change anything at this point. It is something FAM will officially present in due time, but at the moment it is only informal conversations,” Stuart told FOX Sports Malaysia.

“FAM will need to make an appeal to the competitions committee who will then make a study and decide. We will also need to have conservations with other countries have participants in the Asian Champions League (ACL) qualifiers.

Stuart was previously quoted saying the national body are planning to appeal to the AFC for an AFC Cup slot, should the team who competes in the ACL qualifier fail to make it to the tournament proper.

As of next season, Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) will compete in the ACL group stage, while either Pahang FA or Perak FA will participate in the ACL qualifiers.

The general secretary said the idea for an extra slot is to give other Malaysian clubs a chance to compete in Asia, as it won’t be good to only have one Malaysian representative in Asia.

“One of the reasons JDT qualified to the ACL was because they won the AFC Cup in 2015. But it won’t be good for Malaysia to not have clubs in the AFC Cup, because we would lose out of competition points,” added Stuart.

“If Malaysia only has one country in Asian club competition, then our ranking would drop and we would also lose the ACL slot in the next cycle.”

Malaysia are the sixth highest ranked nation in the east region, which affords them one direct entry into the ACL and one ACL qualifier slot.

Hong Kong and Vietnam, who previously had teams in the ACL are in seventh and eighth respectively, which means they can only play in the AFC Cup next season.