KUALA LUMPUR: Asian football is on its way up with the many positive signs shown since the overwhelming success in the FIFA World Cup Finals hosted by South Korea and Japan in 2002.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) are aware that they have no time to rest on their laurels if they are to push forward to achieve bigger goals on the world stage.
The three-day AFC First Football Conference, which begins tomorrow at the JW Marriot Hotel here, is one of their efforts to raise the standard of the game in the continent even further.
Those in charge of Asian football will have in-depth discussions with some of the game's coaching legends.
The high-profile conference will have among the speakers the head of FIFA technical programme, Holger Osieck; UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh; chairman of European coaches association Jozef Venglos; former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier; technical director of the Japan FA Kohzo Tashima; and former Iraqi national coach Adnan Hamd.
The AFC general secretary, Datuk Peter Velappan, said yesterday that the conference would address the current status of Asian football.
He added that it would also look at the ways to move forward through their youth development programmes and how to secure their future via the “Vision Asia” programme, which was launched two years ago.
“The speakers will bring with them global experiences from different parts of the world and cultures as well as from the national and club management,” said Velappan.
“This inaugural gathering is considered an essential part of the AFC calendar. The confederation will be looking to hear views and feedbacks from the conference to put into practice ways to improve Asian football.
“Participants will also get a chance to hear from those directly involved in the present status of Asian football.
“Of course, we also have our European friends with us. It is undeniable that we still have much to learn from Europe.
“The coaches will study the different strategies and philosophies of youth development, learning, especially, from the experiences of European clubs, the French system, which has produced such fine players like Thierry Henry, as well as the Asian model from Japan.
“The conference is coming at the right time for Asia. Our teams and players are not just shirt-sellers.
“Shinji Ono is now a mainstay with Feyenoord Rotterdam and the 2003 AFC Player of the Year, Mehdi Mahdavikia, has been voted by Hamburg fans as their best player for two consecutive seasons.
“Koreans Park Ji-sung and Lee Young-pyo played crucial roles in PSV Eindhoven's march into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
“There is also Seol Ki-hyeon’s searing run, which has contributed to Wolverhampton’s FA Cup fine run. And the list goes on and on.
“We are now on the way up and we need to continue learning from Europe and the others to make that extra push.”
About 80 national coaches and technical directors will attend the three-day seminar.