In last season's AFC Cup Macau's sole representative Benfica Macau put in some excellent performances in their debut participation in the group stages. Unfortunately for them, they haven't been granted an AFC Club License to compete again in the up-and-coming season.
Lack of support thwarts Benfica Macau continental progressBenfica Macau may not have topped the group and managed to qualify through to the knock out stages of the AFC Cup tournament last season, but they were by far one of the biggest success stories coming out of the whole competition.
It's a shame for Benfica Macau who would be looking to build on an excellent debut season playing AFC Cup football, but now they have no choice but to not enter. The reason they couldn't get an AFC Club License was through lack of a dedicated venue, which is tricky for a lot of the 'smaller' footballing nations in Asia who use shared venues to play matches.
Sport is for everyone
Because Benfica Macau will have to use a venue that is a shared venue that everyone has the right to use they cannot guarantee that it will be available for the times they need to use it, and this is what has caused an issue in getting the AFC Cup License. The Macau government have insisted that sport is for everyone and therefore everyone should have the right to book the venue, not only Benfica Macau.
This is not only a problem that effects Macau, but other countries like Guam, Taiwan, Mongolia all also share similar venue issues. For football to develop in the region there needs to be more support for clubs to play in continental tournaments, it is a great experience for teams to play each other from other countries with different playing styles and goes a great deal into helping them know what to expect when they go away on international duty. Without the AFC Cup teams from the lower ranked Asian countries have no chance of playing continental football which is a great shame for those teams.
More support needed from government and associationsThe government or football associations need to offer more help to the clubs that want to play in the AFC Cup, it will only help the countries football scene in the long run. A competition like this will only help, and how many games does a team even need to use it for?
The chances of any teams from the East Asian zone defeating North Korea's 4.25SC are slim to none. So the venue won't even be booked up for that many games really, I'm certain the authorities could offer the clubs more help if they wanted to. It is disappointing that they haven't and it's a proper downer for Benfica Macau. Hopefully, they don't give up and try again.