Thu, 19 Jun 2003

Gialia last inclusion in initial ASEAN Club Championship

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

H.A. Gialia of Vietnam was the last team confirming its participation in the 110,000 euro (US$130,000) ASEAN Club Championship, which Indonesia will host from July 13 through July 26.

The event will feature the national soccer league champions of the countries grouped in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The inaugural season of the biennial event under the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) will also see East Bengal of India (South Asia) join as an invitee.

"Gialia won the Vietnamese soccer league last Sunday. It must be one of the strong teams in the championship, given the team's lineup -- it has seven players from the national team," Alamgir B. Kashmiri from the organizing committee said here on Wednesday.

Kashmiri is the managing director of STRATA Sports Marketing Limited, the official European representatives of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which has been awarded a six-year deal by AFF to organize the ASEAN Club Championship. The championship is to be held every two years.

Terdsak Chaiman, who helped steer Thailand to its Tiger Cup victory in Jakarta in 2002, seems to have an integral role in Gialia's potential power.

As the host, Indonesia will be represented by 2002 champion Petrokimia Putra and runner-up Persita.

Petrokimia Putra will host the Group A and B matches at its home pitch of Gresik (East Java), while Persita will move from Tangerang, Banten province, to Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta to host the Group C and D matches. Gresik will also be the official site of the opening kick-off to the ASEAN championship.

Each group consists of three teams, from which the top two teams will qualify for the quarterfinals. The semifinals and the final will be played in Jakarta.

The inaugural tournament in Indonesia is expected to be an entertaining and successful competition, and it is hoped to ensue in a heightened competitiveness in the region, given the fact that the majority of the clubs line up foreign players.

"With Thailand appearing to dominate the Tiger Cup, the club championship is expected to provide more balanced rivalries," Kashmiri said.

The Tiger Cup is the countries' biennial event in the region.

The ASEAN Club Championship will be officially launched on June 20, and will be attended by team representatives.

Group A: Petrokimia Putra (Indonesia), Finance & Revenue (Myanmar), Smart United (Cambodia)

Group B: SAFF (Singapore), Perak FC (Malaysia), DPMM (Brunei Darussalam)

Group C: Persita (Indonesia), H.A. Gialia (Vietnam), MTTPC (Laos)

Group D: Bec-Tero Sassana (Thailand), East Bengal (India), Air Force (the Philippines)