Football: Chairman of Johor Darul Takzim cool to idea of an Asean Super League

SINGAPORE - The chairman of Malaysian Super League club Johor Darul Takzim said yesterday that he remains unconvinced by the concept of an Asean Super League (ASL), which is set to kick off next year.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Pentagon Awards, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, Crown Prince of Johor, said: "I don't agree with the ASL.

"I think we're (South-east Asian football) still young and we (should) focus on how it is done in Europe.

"For now, the Asian Champions League (ACL) is the highest target. The ASL is not really my cup of tea."

Details of the proposed regional league, the brainchild of Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin, have not been released.

But The Sunday Times understands it could comprise franchise teams bankrolled by wealthy owners, as well as regional club sides.

Having led JDT to the AFC Cup last season, and overseen the construction of a new RM15 million (S$5.16 million) training ground, Tunku Ismail, who received the Leaders' Leader award, said he is setting his team a target of qualifying for the group stages of the ACL in two to three years.

This season, JDT fell in the second preliminary round to Thailand's Muangthong United.

Known for his forthright views, Tunku Ismail also spoke about the Malaysian national team, who sank to an all-time low of world No. 174 in the latest Fifa world rankings.

He said: "The national team are not doing that well. We need foreign expertise. We need to learn as much as we can from other countries... and not be too arrogant and careless.

"The first step to success for the national team is that."

Asked if he fancies a role in the Football Association of Malaysia, he replied: "I'd have to think about that. It's a big task.

"I'm just someone who is responsible for such a small club.

"To share my thoughts, ideas and advice, I don't mind.

"But to be there, I'm not sure yet, we'll see how it goes."