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19 December 2010

After the Cup, What is Next???

The South East Asean Nation's football championships have been held since 1996. The tournament, to be sure, has a purpose to empower football development in the region. I think the supreme aim is not to determine which country is the best. Instead, the AFF must have a bigger mission: to build a strong football characteristic among the ASEAN nations. This character-building has also to be the major objective of the participating countries.

Preserving fanaticism such what was heralded by group of fans from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, is a waste of time. Fans and supporters must revise their paradigm unless the goodwill mission is deteriorated by narrow thinkings.

Since its introduction in 1996, the AFF Cup (formerly Tiger Cup) has given a new wave of football development among the ASEAN nations. In particular the last chapter, we have witnessed the rise of the Philippines, where football falls behind boxing and basketball, and the new generation of Malaysia (the Harimau Muda). Notwithstanding Singapore, which I believe "running out gasoline" due to their aging players and the off-fire Thailand, the whole countries have shown enthusiasm to be the best.

The new spirit of the ASEAN football began with Vietnam topping the 2008 tournament. Since then, the development has become tremendous. I think this is a good sign towards equalizing reputation to the stronger regions such as the Middle-East and East Asia.

What is next?

Once upon a time the region held a club tournament -- eventhough South Asian clubs also took part. But the idea was stuck and until now there have been no follow-up.

ASEAN competition at club levels is very important in order to keep the pace with the clubs from the other sides of Asia. Let us consider this idea as a warming-up stage towards either AFC Champions League or AFC Cup. Mobilizing competitive atmosphere is important to build mentality, spirit, will, and above all, tactics on the pitch. Intense competition in all levels, both international and club, demands the players with a high level form, which is in turn, may produce potential resources for national squads.

In addition to technical purpose, regional club competition is beneficial from marketing viewpoint. The enthusiasm during the AFF Cup must continue with another wind of change. All ASEAN nations must work hand-in-hand, skipping differences, towards the glory of their regional football.

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