Contributed by: Graeme Carey
The Asian Championships is the goal of all teams in the Asian region. Being played in tropical conditions, subject to vagaries of weather and in a lightning premiership type format, the day is a true test of stamina, team management and above all, depth.
Yet, for all the elements of luck that can play a part with the draw, with injuries and other factors, usually the best side wins.
Whilst many internationals are played during the year, and nearly all clubs have some sort of intra-club domestic competition, like racehorses aiming at the Melbourne Cup, it is the Asian Championships that all conditioning is aimed towards.
This year is the 10th edition of the Championships - Hong Kong and Singapore have won 3 each, Indonesia (as a combined Jakarta-Bali side many years ago) 2, and Dubai 1.
Coinncidentally it is the 10th year of the Malaysian Warriors Football Club and they will be hosting the Championships on Saturday, 5th September at the Royal Selangor Polo Club, situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
Below is a summary of the contenders' known form through 2009.
Won Asian Championships 2008, comfortably defeating hosts Singapore in final. Won inaugural the AFL Middle East premiership 2009, defeating Muscat Magpies in final by 9 points. Will be very hard to beat.
Runners-up last year, and winners in 2001, 2005 and 2006.
Were scheduled to play Jakarta Bintangs on 1st August, but the bombings in Jakarta caused the game to be cancelled.
Lost narrowly to Thailand Tigers in Pattaya on 23rd June.
Participated in Bali9s Masters but were eliminated early.
Beat Malaysia 5.4 to 4.2 in Anzac Day Tri series in Kuala Lumpur on April 25th.
Will play Malaysian Warriors in Singapore on August 22nd.
Have had plenty of intra-club games but not many internationals. Proximity to Malaysia means they will bring a big squad and be very competitive.
Semi finalist last year, and runners up in Asian Championships 2006, 2007
Won Bali 9s in 2007 and 2008. Runners-up in Bali Masters in 2008 and 2009
On April 6th beat Vietnam Swans easily in Hanoi, 17.6 to 13.11.
Won Crikey Cup in Darwin over Timor Leste Crocs on 6th June
Lost to Jakarta Bintangs June 20th.
Play archrivals the Jakarta Bintangs on 15th August. As always, will be very strong, got a scare last year when Malaysia almost beat them, but bound to be one of the top contenders.
Hong Kong Dragons
Won in 2003, 2004 (in Kuala Lumpur) and 2007. Semi-finalist 2008. Won the Manila Cup in 2008 and 2009, beating the Malaysian Warriors in the final on both occasions.
Have not played any other internationals this year, apart from the Manila Cup, where they beat Malaysia (twice), the Philippines Eagles and China Reds.
May be a bit underdone, and much will depend on the depth of their squad.
As the Indonesia Bintangs in combination with Bali, won the Championship in 2000 and 2002.
Made semi final of Bali 9s Masters in June going to down to eventual winners Darwin Waratahs.
Defeated Vietnam Swans comfortably in Kainey Cup.
On 27th June thrashed Philippine Eagles in Manila 22.11 to 1.3. Beat a weakened Bali Geckoes in Jakarta on 20th June. Won Borneo Cup on Anzac Day 2009, beating Borneo Bears 4.10 to 2.4 and Jakarta Bulldogs 7.7 to 4.4 in final. Lost to Jakarta Bulldogs 2.6 to 11.3 on same day.
Play the Geckoes in Bali on 15th August which will give a better indication of the Bintangs' chances. Have been disappointing in recent years and will be keen to atone.
Were the surprise packets of last year and went on to win the IndoChina Cup beating Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
This year’s form has not been so impressive. Lost narrowly to Vietnam on 8th August in Hanoi.
Runners up Bali 9s 2006, Manila Cup 2008, 2009. Hosting the tournament for the second time.
Lost to Singapore in KL on 25th April. Beat China and the Philippines on way to Manila Cup final in May.
Play Singapore in Singapore on 22nd August. Can rely on a large squad being the home team, but that may not be enough.
As always, have looked good at home, beating Singapore in Pattaya on 27th June, and smashing Vietnam in the Anzac Day game at Hellfire Pass.
Have rarely performed well away, and much will depend on the quality and quantity of squad they bring to Kuala Lumpur.
Another enigmatic side that could spring a surprise or two. Did reasonably well in the Manila Cup beating the Philippines, losing narrowly to Malaysia and putting up a respectable performance against the eventual winner Hong Kong.
Performance will depend very much on the depth of their squad and their ability to combine as a team, with players being drawn from Beijing and Shanghai.
A steadily improving team, who, if they bring a full squad could produce some surprises. Narrowly beat Laos in their most recent outing, but suffered losses at home to Jakarta and the Bali Geckos. Were well beaten by Thailand in the Hellfire Pass game.
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