Sep 21, 2009


The National futsal squad can look forward to a fruitful outing in the AFC Cup Futsal championship in Uzbekistan next May, after a favourable draw.According to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) website, Malaysia who are in the Asean zone, have been drawn in Group B with Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines while Group A comprises Australia, Indonesia, Brunei and Myanmar.

The top two teams in Group A and B, qualify for the semi-finals of the Asean zone, and the top three qualify for the AFC Cup finals in Uzbekistan later.Based on the recent Asean Football Federation (AFF) futsal competition held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in June, Vietnam who finished as the runner-up, are seen as Malaysia's main rival in the group.Indonesia would host both the group matches at the Jakarta Tennis Stadium from Feb 13-18.

Since the inception of the AFC Cup in 1999, Malaysia had failed to get past the first round group matches, except in 2005 (Vietnam) when the National squad made it to the second round but finished in 12th in a competition that saw 24 countries participating.The National futsal team coached by P. Balakrishnan are currently preparing for the 3rd Asian Indoor Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Oct 30.

Apart from the three teams that qualify from the Asean zone, 18 other teams would be playing in various zones, to earn nine slots available for the finals in Uzbekistan.Four teams, defending champion Iran, runner-up Thailand, 2006 champion Japan and host Uzbekistan are automatic qualifiers for the championship.-- BERNAMA

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