AFC – Asian Football Confederation
The draws for the 2008 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup were recently held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the Champions League, 2007 runners-up Sepahan of Iran were drawn alongside tournament debutants Kuruvchi of Uzbekistan, two-time champions Al-lttihad of Saudi Arabia and Al-lttihad of Syria. The AFC Cup groupings saw defending champions Shabab Al-Ordon of Jordan pitted against Al-Nahda (Oman), Al-Sha’ab Hadramaut (Yemen) and Al-Najma (Bahrain). The fifth edition of the AFC Champions League kicks off on 12 March and the group stage concludes on 21 May. The home-and-away quarter-finals are slated for 17 and 24 September while the semi-finals will be held on 8 and 22 October with the two-legged final scheduled for 5 and 12 November. Defending champions Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan will join the fray in the quarter-finals. The AFC Cup group stage, which is set for a 11 March kick-off, concludes on 14 May ahead of the knockout stage, which begins on 16 September, and the two-legged final on 31 October and 2 November.
Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), and Alberto Colaco, AIFF General Secretary, recently visited AFC HOUSE in Kuala Lumpur for strategic planning meetings with AFC officials,. AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam underlined the huge importance of the Indian continent as a key focus for the AFC and its crucial rule in the development of football in Asia. Discussions focused on Vision Asia and the Vision India project and on how other stakeholders from outside Asia involved in Indian football development could contribute towards the future success of football in the world’s second most populous country. The AIFF announced that dedicated human resources would be appointed to Vision India to drive the project forward. India has also submitted a bid to host the AFC Challenge Cup competitions in 2008 and 2010. The professionalisation of Indian club football was also discussed as part of the AFC Professional Leagues project. India is taking proactive steps towards the improvement of club football with the redevelopment of the national league already underway, leading to a final re-launch in March 2009.