Pahang say no to AFC opportunity

Malaysia Super League (MSL) runners-up Pahang have declined the chance to compete in the 2018 AFC Cup to focus their energies on the domestic scene, despite being 'gifted' an AFC Cup slot next year following Kedah's failure to complete the necessary club licensing.

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"Pahang FA were offered a place in the AFC Cup on November 9 but we turned it down in a letter dated November 14. This is so we can give our full attention to the domestic competitions," read a statement by Pahang FA on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) revealed that they had nominated another team, after Kedah, who had won the FA Cup in May, failed to obtain an AFC Licence due to incomplete financial documents.

Pahang's withdrawal is leaving Malaysia's footballing authorities short of options

Kedah only managed to obtain a FAM License upon appeal, permitting them to compete in the MSL next year.

Pahang's withdrawal is leaving Malaysia footballing authorities short on options.

According to the Entry Manual for AFC Club Competitions: "If an eligible club refuses to enter an AFC Competition, despite being licensed and meeting the sporting criteria, the slot allocated to its MA shall be annulled, regardless of whether it is a direct slot or playoff slot."

This could mean that no Malaysian team will be allowed to take Pahang's place.

If these rules are not to apply, third place Felda United are also ineligible for the same reasons as Kedah, who came fourth in the MSL standings, while fifth place Perak also do not have an AFC license. Sixth-place Selangor could potentially represent Malaysia in the AFC Cup. PKNS are the only other team with an AFC License.

If MSL winners Johor Darul Ta'zim fail to clear the qualifying rounds of the AFC Champions League in January, they will also compete in the AFC Cup.