Is it time for an Asian Cup Winners Cup?

Now that Australia well and truly has FFA Cup fever, Asian football expert John Duerden asks if it’s time to bring back the drama of a Continental Cup tournament featuring Cup winners from across Asia.

The Westfield FFA Cup in Australia is quickly becoming an integral part of the Aussie football scene.

Watching the minnows being thrown into the big pond for a night with a big fish can be as pure a football experience as there is.There is something about Cup football, especially when it comes to the simple sudden death of the knockout competition.

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Lions FC celebrate scoring the opener against Croydon Kings.

As always, though, around Asia, matters are a little more varied.

Some countries catch Cup fever at the slightest of sneezes while some seem almost immune to this most vivacious of viruses. You can't say that about Malaysia. Some say the Cup is a bigger deal than the league. 

Anyone who has attended an FA Cup final would understand. Every year, crowds in excess of at least 60,000, flock to the Bukit Jalil Stadium to provide an atmosphere to rival any anywhere.

However, some of the West Asian nations can even go a little overboard when it comes to Cup competitions.

Al Hilal may be yet to win the AFC Champions League and that is perhaps a good thing. With 12 Saudi Crown Prince Cups, eight Saudi Federation Cups and seven Kings Cup already in the Riyadh trophy cabinet, finding space for another could be tricky.

Al Sadd in Qatar have something similar: 15 Emir of Qatar Cups, five Qatar Crown Prince Cups, 13 Sheikh Jassem Cups and a single Qatar Stars Cup.

It's a wonder anyone finds the team for anything else.

India has the third oldest cup competition in the world. Only the English and Scottish competitions started before the Durand Cup that was born in 1889. 

Japan loves its twin competitions. The J-League Cup can be interesting but the Emperor's Cup, and especially the final on New Year's Day is one of the biggest in the football calendar and something not to be missed.

Kashima Antlers' Mu Kanazaki celebrates a goal against Western Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League.

South Korea's FA Cup has yet to catch the imagination of the general public and the Chinese version is a bit hit-and-miss, but even here, there are plenty of memories.

Perhaps it is time to bring back the old Asian Cup Winners Cup? 

This competition ran from 1990 to 2002. The concept was the same as the also defunct European version. If you win your main domestic Cup then you earn the right to face other winners from around Asia to then win the continental version.

It ended because, like in Europe, the AFC introduced the expanded Champions League and couldn't see the need, or find the room, for a Cup competition.

The AFC Champions League has expanded but rather than eliminating the need for more, it makes a pure Cup competition more attractive.

Just find 32 teams from 32 Asian nations (whether they come from 32 nations, or more with a small play-off round) and then start.

No seeding, no groups and no second chances, it's Cup football at its purest. 

Perhaps there's even no need for away goals - though that is another debate. It would be quick and streamlined. By the time the group stage of the Champions League has finished, the Cup tournament would be almost over.

Clubs that win their domestic Cups and also qualify for the AFC Champions League by virtue of their league position can choose which competition to enter.

What's more, taking Cup winners out of the AFC Champions League and into a Cup Winners Cup competition (one that'd be easier to win ) would also free up space in the Champions League for more countries to participate.

Adelaide United players celebrate scoring against the Mariners.

Cup football in Asia has plenty of history and affection and with the new wave of FFA Cup fever coming from Australia, perhaps it is time to give the Cup lovers around the continent competition of their own.