Selangor FA announce Asia Challenge tournament; dry run for continental aspirations

Selangor have announced the 2020 Asia Challenge; a pre-season tournament featuring Persib, Ha Noi as well as Bangkok United.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Selangor have announced the 2020 Asia Challenge; a pre-season tournament that is set to kick off their 2020 season.

In a press conference held in conjunction with the Selangor Football Day on Saturday, association secretary-general Johan Kamal Hamidon revealed that three Southeast Asian clubs have accepted their invitation to take part in the four-team tournament, with the matches set to be held on January 18 and 19 next year.

The clubs are recent Vietnamese league winners Ha Noi FC, Thailand’s Bangkok United and Indonesian powerhouse Persib Bandung.

In the press conference, Johan explained that the tournament is organised with the objective of showing the former Malaysian powerhouse’s intention of participating at the Asian continental level regularly in the coming years.

“One aim of the tournament is for Selangor to show our aspirations of becoming one of Asia’s big clubs. This is one of the ways; the first step in making our presence felt in Asia.

“Another objective is to prepare Selangor; we know where we are and we know where we want to be, and to get there we have to be playing against the best. A pre-season tournament against the best in Asia is definitely the right way to prepare for the coming season. We want to tell our fans that we will be for Asia [competitively] when the opportunity is there 

“In the years to come, we are targeting different regions of Asia; maybe East Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. We want to bring the best clubs in Asia to Malaysia so fans in the country can watch the best of Asia,” explained the club official.

He also revealed that the teams are invited due to their reputations and recent achievements.

“With Ha Noi, they are indisputably the best club in Vietnam,” remarked Johan.

“We initially secured Buriram [United] for Thailand, but they lost the title on the final day of Thai League 1 and will have to play in the AFC Champions League play-offs. So they had to withdraw from the tournament. Bangkok are our second option as they have been consistent in the league; finishing the league in the top three. And like Selangor, they are based in the central part of their country, so our identities are quite similar in that regard.

“Whereas for Persib, it’s a bit tricky. They did not win the 2019 Indonesian league, but we selected them nevertheless because we want a club with the kind of history and following that Selangor have. We want Persib because we want the match to be attended by a big crowd; we know that they even have fan groups in Malaysia.”

He also added that the tournament will be held at the Shah Alam Stadium, with each team drawn to play in two matches, and extra point given for each goal scored in order to encourage attractive football. At the conclusion, the champions will go home with USD10,000 in prize money.

Apart from the matches, the tournament will also be held alongside concerts and a food festival with the assistance of embassies from the clubs’ country of origin.

When asked, Johan revealed that the admission price for all four matches is RM30 (around USD7), although Selangor team card holders need to pay only RM15.

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