Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuala Lumpur: After five editions of the AFC Challenge Cup, the last-ever game was held on May 30, 2014, when Ashraf Nu'man scored the only goal of the match as Palestine defeated the Philippines 1-0 in the final in Male to become the 16th and final qualifier for the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
Three years to the day since Palestine’s momentous achievement, the-AFC.com looks back at the last AFC Challenge Cup, played in the picturesque surroundings of the Maldives.
A brief history
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Bandar Seri Begawan: England-based winger Faiq Bolkiah has stressed there was never any chance he would choose to play for the United States of America ahead of Brunei Darussalam despite repeated attempts to encourage him to commit his future to the land of his birth.
Faiq, who is currently on the books of English Premier League champions Leicester City, represented Brunei at the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia earlier this month, and told the-AFC.com there was never any prospect of pledging his allegiance to the United States.
“That would never have happened,” said the Los Angeles-born 18-year-old of attempts to entice him to play for the Americans. “I’ve already spoken to my family about this and it was never going to happen.
“To this day, they are trying to contact me non-stop, for many years already, but we’ve had to stamp down on it. I can’t play for them.”
Faiq, who is a nephew of the Sultan of Brunei, signed a three-year contract with Leicester earlier this year after stints in the youth teams at Chelsea and Southampton, and has played for his country at the under-23 and senior level, captaining the team twice at the AFC Solidarity Cup.
“I feel that I’m a Bruneian,” he said. “My dad’s Bruneian, my mum’s Bruneian, so just because I was born there doesn’t make me American. I want to play for Brunei. That’s why I don’t think I could play for any other country. Brunei is the only country that I will play for.”
After spending two years as a member of Chelsea’s academy, Faiq was released by the London club earlier this year before being offered a contract by Leicester City’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in May.
And while the club’s South East Asian ownership played a role in him joining Leicester, Faiq is quick to point out the club from England’s East Midlands had been following his progress for several years before finally taking him on board.
“It was a football decision, but with Leicester being owned by South East Asians, they were excited about me coming to the club and they saw the potential,” said Faiq.
“They were watching me since I was (on trial) at Arsenal when I was 14 or 15 years old, and then I signed for Chelsea. But before that they wanted to sign me. So they found the opportunity.
"They heard I was a free agent and I was looking around to see what clubs were open and that’s when they came in. I met with the owners and they told me what they wanted to do and how the club would go forward.”
Few players with South East Asian connections have made an impact in European football, but Faiq is hoping joining Leicester will allow him to make the step towards playing for the club’s first team in the coming seasons.
“They’re pushing youngsters,” he said of Leicester’s plans for the future. “I don’t know about this year, but in the future they’re looking to push players into the first team. So I’m keeping my head down and when the time is right I need to impress."
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: A solitary first half goal from Sujal Shreshtha was enough to seal a 1-0 victory for Nepal over Macau in the final of the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 at Sarawak Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Shreshtha scored in the 29th minute to give Nepal the title and cap an impressive performance throughout the tournament that saw Koji Gyotoku’s side emerge as the champions.
Nepal dominated from start to finish in difficult conditions but, while Macau’s defence held firm for the majority of the game, Tam Iao San’s team rarely threatened at the other end of the pitch.
Nicholas Torrao and midfielder Pan Chi Hang overcame fitness concerns to start for Macau while Nepal coach Gyotoku named the same starting line-up that saw off Laos in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals.
With heavy rain having fallen just before kick-off, the conditions were difficult for both sides but despite the surface water on the pitch Nepal still managed to control the opening exchanges.
Bharat Khawas went close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute when he burst down the right before firing a low shot towards the far corner that just slid wide of the post.
Fourteen minutes later, the Nepalese went closer still when Anjan Bista smashed his shot from the edge of the area towards goal, only for goalkeeper Ho Man Fai to punch the ball over the bar.
Less than a minute later, however, Nepal took the lead. Khawas outpaced Kong Cheng Hou down the Macau left before cutting back a perfect lofted ball towards the far post that Shreshtha powered home with his head, directing the ball back across goal and into the far corner.
The lead was well deserved for a Nepal side that help the upper hand throughout the half, and Gyotoku’s side could have added a second late in the half, but Nawayug Shrestha’s header flew across the face of goal.
Macau offered little in the attacking third of the pitch, with Lao Pak Kin’s long range attempt at goal with a 65th minute free kick a rare attempt at goal for the side from the former Portuguese enclave.
Instead, it was Nepal who looked more likely to score the game’s second with Bimal Gharti Magar particularly assertive as the midfielder tried his luck repeatedly from distance throughout the second half.
None of his efforts seriously troubled Macau goalkeeper Ho, but it mattered little as Shreshtha’s header was enough to ensure the trophy goes back with the Nepalese to Kathmandu.
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Macau’s Leong Ka Hang and Shahrazen Said of Brunei Darussalam were named the winners of the MVP and Top Scorer awards respectively during the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 awards ceremony at Sarawak Stadium on Tuesday.
Macau narrowly lost to Nepal 1-0 in the final match but Leong (pictured, centre) took home the MVP accolade after a string of excellent performances in the competition, having been adjudged MVP in two Group Stage games and scoring two goals - including one in Macau's penalty shootout win over Brunei in the semi-finals.
“This MVP award is a bonus for me and the team,” the 23-year-old told the-AFC.com. “Nepal played very well and I think we got a great bonus having come to this stage of this competition.
“We were not very good in the first half and we also need to improve in terms of speed and skills and we found it hard to defend Nepal’s attacks.
“After the goal by Nepal, we lost confidence a bit. But we learned a lot from our coach, that we must work hard no matter the playing conditions. We lost in the final but we will come back in the future. I believe we can be even more confident in the future with our performance in this competition.”
Shahrazen recorded an assist and four goals that included a brace in their 3-2 loss to Laos in the third-place play-off. The 30-year-old striker also netted in the Bruneians’ 4-0 win over Timor-Leste as well as in his side's semi-final match against Macau.
Meanwhile, third-place winners Laos also bagged the Fair Play award.
Full list of winners:
Third place: Laos
MVP: Leong Ka Hang (Macau No9)
Top Scorer: Shahrazen Said (Brunei No22 – four goals, one assist)
Fair Play: Laos
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Victorious Nepal coach Koji Gyotoku is refusing to rest on his laurels after seeing his side hand Macau a 1-0 defeat to win the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 at Sarawak Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Nepal capped a dominant display with a solitary goal from Sujal Shreshtha in the 29th minute that ensured the trophy went to Kathmandu, but Gyotoku hopes the win can lead to more success in the future for his team.
“I’m very happy to be the champion and our performance was good but I’m not satisfied,” said the Japanese coach. “We have to go back to Nepal and we have to continue training. In this game we had a lot of chances to score at 1-0 and this is our problem. We need to score more and we need to be stronger.
“We didn’t concede any goals so that’s good for us but sometimes we made mistakes. I don’t know how many shots we had but the defenders, including the goalkeeper, played well.”
The Nepalese laid siege to the Macau goal for large periods of the game but, in difficult rain-sodden conditions, Gyotoku’s team were unable to add to their single goal.
Nepal’s control of the game was such that despite the narrow lead they were rarely under threat, with Macau reduced to an occasional speculative effort from long range and caused goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu few problems.
With Nepal’s football infrastructure still adversely affected by last April’s earthquake that devastated much of Katmandhu and the city’s outlying areas –the national stadium remains closed as a result – the team went into the tournament not having played in five months.
In light of the circumstances back in Nepal, the win had added significance for Gyotoku and his players.
“We participated in this competition and it has a lot of meaning for us,” said Gyotoku. “Normally we can’t arrange international matches and that was four matches we had and we were fighting and we could be strong.
“After we go back to Nepal we will discuss (what the future holds). Now we’re just happy.”
The coach refused to be drawn on his own future with the Nepal team, having signed a contract that runs through to the end of January via an assistance programme that exists between the All Nepal Football Association and the Japan Football Association.
“This contract is between JFA and ANFA,” he said. “I don’t know just now.”
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Macau coach Tam Iao San took pride in the performance of his players despite seeing his side lose 1-0 in the final of the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 to Nepal at Sarawak Stadium on Tuesday evening.
A first-half goal from Sujal Shreshtha was all that separated the teams over the course of the 90 minutes and, although the Macanese slipped to the loss, Tam was in a positive frame of mind after the game.
“Even though we lost the final I still thank God for the team’s effort,” he said. “My players gave 100 percent in the game and congratulations to Nepal. They had a better performance today and honestly they created many chances, more than us, so I think they deserved it.
“For us, if you are in the final you have to fight but especially in these difficult conditions they had more speed and individual ability. Nepal performed better than us and showed better individual ability than us.
“It’s a very good experience to have a chance to play with Nepal because this is another style compared to how we play in east Asia.”
The defeat brings to an end an impressive run of form for Macau, who emerged from the group phase unbeaten following wins over Mongolia and Laos and a draw with Sri Lanka before a penalty shootout win against Brunei Darussalam took them through to the final.
The AFC Solidarity Cup presented Macau’s representative team with the rare opportunity to play an international tournament and coach Tam was hopeful the positive impact could be felt in the future for football in the territory.
“I’d like to thank the organising committee and the AFC,” he said. “We lost but we gained some value from the tournament and hopefully in the future we can let our players know that they have to work hard to improve.
“We lost the game but we didn’t lose anything at the tournament, we gained something. We already reached our target, we wanted to get to the semi-finals and we finished second and this is some encouragement for Macau football.
“The senior players now know the standard. It’s very difficult and I hope the players can motivate themselves because we are only sometimes able to train once or twice a week. They have to do extra training if they want to play at international level. It’s a very good tournament to let them know what their ability is on this kind of stage and hopefully they can share the experience for the next generation of Macau football.
“As a coach we have to learn the lessons. Physically we are weaker than Nepal and we have less speed also. One-on-one even the same. In my opinion as a coach we have to look at how to develop players, young players to keep the national team stable and then to go a step or more further.”
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Striker Xaisongkham Champathong credited teamwork for his last-minute goal which helped Laos beat Brunei Darussalam 3-2 and win third place in the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 on Monday.
Shahrazen Said levelled twice for Brunei after goals from Keoviengpheth Lithideth and Sitthideth Khanthavong and as time ticked down and heavy rain started to fall, Laos took the lead for a third and final time.
Xaisongkham muscled his way past the Brunei defence to meet a free kick from the left before scoring via the inside of the far post in the 82nd minute.
“We were worried if the game would end in a 2-2 draw and go into extra time,” said the 23-year-old. “So our third goal, which came very late, was very much welcomed.
“But it wasn’t my effort alone. It was team work that made it possible. Plus, there was luck too that played a part in us getting that last and winning goal.”
The winner was scored in the striker’s second match for the national team as a starter in the tournament, having been on the starting line-up in their semi-final penalty shootout loss to Nepal where he recorded a brace.
Earlier, Xaisongkham played as a substitute in Laos’ group stage matches, including the 3-0 win over Mongolia where he scored the team’s third goal, also in the dying minutes of the game.
“I’m happy to have scored two goals in our semi-final match against Nepal. That was the first time I played as a starter for the national team.
“The last-minute goal in the Mongolia match was also a surprise. I didn’t expect to score but I think our team’s vigorous preparation and training paid off.”
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Nepal for winning the inaugural AFC Solidarity Cup after they narrowly defeated Macau 1-0 on Tuesday night at the Sarawak Stadium in Malaysia.
“On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to express my congratulations to Nepal for displaying tremendous team spirit and consistency throughout the competition.
“I am confident that this achievement will inspire tomorrow’s generation of footballers and fans and spur Nepal to even greater heights.”
The new competition was introduced to provide aspiring AFC Member Associations with more competitive opportunities to play at the international level. Shaikh Salman also paid tribute to the Local Organising Committee who assisted in the organisation of development workshops and activities held concurrently with the competition.
“Football development and education are the key areas of focus in the AFC Solidarity Cup. In every way, the AFC Solidarity Cup exemplifies the spirit of unity and professionalism envisaged under One Asia, One Goal.
“I would like to thank the Football Association of Malaysia and the Local Organising Committee for staging a successful competition for our aspiring Member Associations to enhance their capabilities, both on and off the pitch.”
After 14 days of action, the AFC Solidarity Cup 2016 culminated in the final between two teams who established themselves as favourites after topping their respective groups.
Prior to the final, both Macau and Nepal were unbeaten throughout the competition and showed immense resolve to overcome their opponents in the semi-finals, edging Brunei and Laos respectively on penalties. In the end, however, it was Nepal who emerged victorious courtesy of a solitary goal from Sujal Shreshtha in the 29th minute.
Earlier on Monday, Laos defeated Brunei 3-2 to finish third in the competition.
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Valokone Phomphakdy was relieved his side did not have to endure a second period of extra time in three days as Laos secured a 3-2 win over Brunei Darussalam to claim third place at the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016.
Xaisongkham Champathong scored eight minutes from time after Laos had twice taken the lead, only to see Shahrazen Said equalise twice for Brunei in an end-to-end encounter that came just two days after both sides had lost their semi-finals in penalty shootouts.
But with fatigue affecting both teams as the game wore on, Valokone was delighted his team as able to win the game in regulation time.
“We had no time to rest so we knew our situation was difficult and we know our performance level and that’s why I wasn’t prepared for extra time,” he said. “We had to have some time to rest, but we were able to score the first goal and a second goal. I talked with my assistant and we didn’t want extra time, whether we win or lose.”
Laos started the game strongly and took the lead after just five minutes through Keoviengpheth Lithideth only for Shahrazen to level in the 24th minute, but Laos took the lead again eight minutes into the second half thanks to Sitthideth Khanthavong’s header.
Shahrazen levelled again two minutes later and the game looked to be heading for extra-time before Xaisongkham bundled his way past the Brunei defence before scoring via the inside of the post.
“This win is very important for our team because we came here and we have changed things and we went with a new plan for our players,” said Valakone. “We had the opportunity to use some young players today and I saw many things we have to develop. The young players that I used can play, not perfectly, but they can play with the senior players.
“I think Brunei were in the same situation as us because they played a hard game the other day also. Both teams are at the same level but we had one advantage: we have harmony and spirit. Brunei had better energy than us but maybe that’s why we could win today.”
Brunei coach Kwon Oh-son was left disappointed after a second defeat in three days but felt his team had gained valuable experience as a result of their involvement in the 2016 AFC Solidarity Cup.
“The players fought really well and they were mentally and physically well prepared and even though we went behind we kept fighting, but in the end we couldn’t score a third goal,” said Kwon.
“Despite only having one-and-a-half day’s rest the players tried to recover as fast as possible, however during this match the players fought well and tried to come back into the game because we were losing. It was an excellent performance from my players and also from Laos.
“Playing in this competition is very important, it gives us a lot of international experience - not just us but the other countries too – and we have to thank the AFC for this. We have learned that we have to prepare well to be successful.”
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Xaisongkham Champathong scored eight minutes from time to give Laos a 3-2 win over Brunei Darussalam at Sarawak Stadium on Monday evening as Valakone Phomphakdy’s side claimed third place at the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016.
Xaisongkham’s winner came after Shahrazen Said had levelled twice for Brunei after goals from Keoviengpheth Lithideth and Sitthideth Khanthavong, but Kwon Oh-son’s side were unable to find a third equaliser as Laos ran out winners.
Shahrazen’s brace takes him to joint top of the goal scoring charts for the tournament, alongside Macau’s Nicholas Torrao with four goals, but it will be minimal consolation for the Brunei midfielder and his team mates.
Laos were on the offensive from the first whistle, with Brunei goalkeeper Tarmizi Johari called into action inside the first minute when left in a one-on-one situation with striker Xaisongkham that the custodian did well to win, pushing the ball to safety.
Four minutes later, though, Tarmizi was not so fortunate as Laos took the lead, the ball breaking to Keoviengpheth on the edge of the six-yard box and he slammed his left-foot shot beyond the keeper’s reach.
Laos continued to push and, in the ninth minute, more impressive goalkeeping from Tarmizi kept the score down when Khouanta Sivongthong’s ball into the path of Xaisongkham was cut across the face of goal before a fine double save, first from Sitthideth and then Keoviengpheth, kept the deficit at one.
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Nepal coach Koji Gyotoku is hoping victory over Macau on Tuesday evening in the final of the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 will provide much-needed focus on rebuilding the football infrastructure within the nation following last year’s devastating earthquake.
Large parts of Nepal were adversely affected by the massive tremor last April, when thousands were killed and many more were injured and left without shelter, and Gyotoku believes a win could spur the authorities in the Himalayan nation to bring football back to the nation.
“Every country has problems and Nepal also has problems,” said Gyotoku. “Last year there was a big earthquake and 9,000 people died and the national stadium was damaged, so we can’t organise national team games in Nepal. The people are waiting to watch the matches in Nepal again.
“Now they are watching on their computers and I heard from the players and the staff that a lot of people are excited about this, and waiting for the game. I don’t know if we will win, but if we do many people will come and see us at the airport. This is important for football’s future in Nepal.
“When the under-23 team won at the South Asian Games in March, there was a lot of government support and I hope if we win tomorrow it will be the same for us. We need the money to fix the national stadium.”
Nepal qualified for the final with a penalty shootout win over Laos on Saturday evening, with goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu emerging as the hero in the spot kicks, but it was the performance of Laos striker Xaisongkham Champathong that is most prominent in the mind of Gyotoku.
Xaisongkham used his physical presence to score twice against the Nepalese and the Japanese coach is concerned Macau forward Nicholas Torrao, the tournament’s top scorer, could also cause problems for his back line on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it will be easy but we have a chance to win,” he said. “Their most important player is the striker, he’s the key player. In our last match against Laos I told the players to watch No. 23 (Xaisongkham), because he’s taller, but he scored two.
“So for this game Torrao is a dangerous player because he’s tall. If the defenders play well then we have a chance.
“We have no injuries, some small problems and of course the players are very tired because we didn’t have a match for five months before this competition, but that’s our problem. The players have high motivation and we want to go back to Nepal as champions.
“It is a good opportunity for us to be champion. This is the first AFC Solidarity Cup and we want to be the first champions.”
Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuching: Macau coach Tam Iao San will make late decision on the fitness of AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 top scorer Nicholas Torrao ahead of Macau’s meeting in the final with Nepal at Sarawak Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Torrao (pictured, left), who has scored four times so far in the competition, started Saturday’s semi-final win against Brunei Darussalam on the bench due to a hand injury and the 28-year-old will undergo a late fitness test to determine whether he will be ready to start.
“Mentally we’re well prepared, but we have some injuries,” said Tam. “Nikki has a problem with his hand, his right hand has a fracture and he had an x-ray yesterday, but he really wants to play because it’s the final. From the opinion of the doctor, he thinks maybe we can tape it.”
Torrao has been a revelation for Macau so far, scoring twice in the games against Laos and Mongolia before being ruled out of the final Group A game against Sri Lanka due to suspension.
He started the semi-final on the bench but was introduced at the start of the second half and was instrumental in the incident that saw Brunei goalkeeper Wardun Yussof sent off before Leong Ka Hang scored from the resulting free kick. He then netted his team’s first spot kick in the penalty shootout as Macau sealed their place in the final.
Torrao, however, is not the only injury doubt for Macau with midfielder Pang Chi Hang’s involvement also under threat due to a twisted ankle sustained in the win over Brunei.
Macau came into the tournament as outsiders and now, having reached the final, Tam believes his team can focus on enjoying the game.
“Before the tournament the target was to reach the semi-final stage and once we got to the semi-final we wanted to go to the final,” he said. “So now there’s no pressure. We have nothing to lose, so we will just concentrate on the final and we hope to bring some encouragement to football in Macau.
“We also have prepared some tactics for Nepal. Nepal are a little bit better than us, they know how to use ball possession and during the game there are elements where their attacking and defending are balanced. They have some special elements.
“But if Nikki can play then we have an advantage because he is a good quality striker and hopefully he can have some good finishing. The most important thing will be to be compact in defence, in the final third, to stop the space behind and to keep out Nepal’s combinations. We hope it will be a good game and a good final.”