Once Upon A Time In Asia, The City Boys Story

With only 17 days to go for the City Boys’ to make our return at the Asian stage courtesy of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Group H matches in Kuala Lumpur from June 24 to 30, 2022,, here is a look back at our involvement in official competitions on the international front over the years.


1985 : Setting The Stage

It all began in 1984 in line with the political ideals of the Association of South East Asian Nations or better known as ASEAN, to strengthen the ties between member countries, which at that time consisted of six nations (Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei). This led to the AFF creating the ASEAN Champions’ Cup (also known as the ASEAN Club Championship), beginning that year.


Around the same time, the AFC were looking to restart their continental tournament for domestic champions of their member associations, which had not been held since the cancellation in 1972. Prior to that, the Asian Champion Teams tournament went on for 4 editions in 1967, 1969, 1970 & 1971, though often hindered with problems, mostly political due to the involvement of Israeli sides back then (where the majority of Arab and Middle Eastern teams would refuse to play and concede, as was the reason for 1972’s abandonment) and the issue of travelling costs.


1985 : It’s Showtime

In 1985, the Asian Club Championship took off, incorporating an ASEAN Zone which also doubled up as the ASEAN Champions’ Cup that was played at the end of December 1984, in Bandung and Jqkarta, Indonesia involving representatives from the host nation (Yanita Utama then later in the finals taken over by Krama Yudha Tiga Berlian), Thailand (Bangkok Bank), Singapore (Tiong Bahru CSC), Malaysia (Melaka FA) and Brunei (Angkatan Bersenjata Diraja Brunei), with the champions of the Philippines and Burma (now known as Myanmar) withdrawing before the tournament began. The winner (Bangkok Bank) and the runner-up (Krama Yudha Tiga Berlian) of this zone then, progressed to the finals held at the end of January 1986 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.


1987 : Missing Out On The Final
The City Boys, as Malaysian League champions in 1986, made our debut in the second edition of the ASEAN Champions’ Cup in 1987, in what was also known as Group 6 in the 3rd editions of the Asian Club Championship. Then known as Federal Territory (FT), we topped the group consisting of Tiong Bahru CSC (Singapore), Kota Ranger (Brunei) and Tiga Berlian (Indonesia) during the centralised matches in Bandung, Indonesia, finishing with 5 points from two wins and a draw (back then it was 2 points awarded for a win).


The following were the City Boys’ results :-
5/6/1987, FT 0 Tiong Bahru 0
6/6/1987, FT 8 Kota Ranger 1
8/6/1987, Tiga Berlian 0 FT 2



We progressed to the semi-final stage that consisted of 2 groups, with Group A based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Group B in Kuala Lumpur. Joining us for company was Yomiuri (Japan), Kazma (Kuwait) and August 1st (China). We were undefeated with a win (vs Yomiuri and two draws (vs Kazma & August 1st), and were tied on 4 points with Yomiuri. However, the Japanese side prevailed to the final on the basis of having a better goal difference, that was, a difference of a single goal (+2 for Yomiuri against +1 for us). Had a little more sophistication be used by the AFC to select the group winner, certainly it would have been the Red And White celebrating their place in the continental showpiece instead


The following were the City Boys’ results in the semi-final group stage :-
3/11/1987, FT 1 August 1st 1
5/11/1987, Yomiuri 0 FT 1
7/11/1987, FT 1 Kazma 1

1989 : Semi-Final Again
The City Boys clinched our second Malaysian League title in 1988, earning us yet another ticket to the big time in 1989. In the fourth and final edition of the ASEAN Champions’ Cup, running in tandem with Group 5 of the 5th editions of the Asian Club Championship, the City Boys were together with Pelita Jaya (Indonesia), Geylang International (Singapore), Air Force (the Philippines) and Muara FC (Brunei). Just as we did in 1987, we topped this group, winning all 4 matches in the centralised competition in Kuala Lumpur, obtaining 8 points, Then we beat Pelita Jaya, who finished as runner-up, in a proper final for the ASEAN Champions’ Cup.

The following were the City Boys’ results :-
10/6/1989, KL 6 Air Force 0
12/6/1989, KL 7 Muara FC 1
14/6/1989, KL 2 Pelita Jaya 1
18/6/1989, KL 4 Geylang International 2
21/6/1989, Final : KL 1 Pelita Jaya 0


Once again we progressed to the semi-final stage. We were in a three team Group A played in Kuala Lumpur, that was made up of Nissan (Japan) and Al-Fanja (Oman), while Group B had 4 teams, instead of both groups being balanced with 5 teams each due to the withdrawal of 3 Middle East teams from this stage. And once again we ended second, but there were no if”s and but’s, this time, winning & losing 1 time each.


The following were the City Boys’ results in the semi-final group stage :-
14/12/1989, Nissan 2 KL 1
16/12/1989, KL 2 Al Fanja 0


1990 : We Should Have Been There
In 1990, the AFC introduced another competition for the Asian domestic champions on the continental stage, the Asian Cup Winner’s Cup, and the City Boys, who were Malaysia Cup champions in 1989, should have featured in the inaugural tournament. However, there was no Malaysian representation for this tournament that year as well as for the Asian Club Championship, and a similar stance was taken for 1991, 1992 & 1993.


1994 : Return To Asia
The City Boys triumph in the FA Cup in 1993 paved the way for us to get back into continental action after not being a part of it since 1989 including missing out in 1990. By this time, the competition format had taken a conscious geographical swing, West Asia and East Asia to lower the associated costs involved and promote participation. The City Boys began the Asian Cup Winners Cup East Asia Zone First Round Stage with a thumping 7-1 aggregate victory over Angkatan Bersenjata Diraja (Brunei). In the next round, we lost 2-3 on aggregate to Gelora Dewata (Indonesia), but were reinstated back into contention when Gelora Dewata were found guilty of fielding two ineligible players. Our journey ended in the following round though, losing 3-5 on aggregate to Telephone Organisation (Thailand) in the quarter-finals, after battling back to win n the second leg to win, but we succumbed in extra-time by conceding two goals.


The following were the City Boys’ results :-
First Round, 3/9/1994, KL 5 Angkatan Bersenjata Diraja Brunei 0
First Round, 16/9/1994, Angkatan Bersenjata Diraja Brunei 0 KL 2 (agg 1-7)

Second Round, 8/10/1994, KL 2 Gelora Dewata 1
Second Round, 22/10/1994, Gelora Dewata 2 KL 0 (agg 3-2)
Note : Gelora Dewata disqualified for fielding 2 ineligible players

Quarter-Final, 19/11/1994, Telephone Organisation 2 KL 1
Quarter-Final, 26/11/1994, KL 2 Telephone Organisation 1 (agg 3-3, after extra-time 3-5)


1995 : We Missed Out
Our second triumph in the FA Cup in 1994 should have allowed us another crack at the Asian Cup Winners Cup in 1995, instead the slot was given to Sabah, who we beat in 1994 final. The same situation was noticed in the Asian Club Championship for 1995. Singapore who were in their last season with 1994 Malaysian League, did the double, winning both the league and the Malaysia Cup, with Kedah and Pahang being the runner-up of those competitions respectively. Pahang, rather than Kedah, played in the 1995 Asian Club Championship. The likeliest explanation was that the Football Association of Malaysia, resorted to the calendar victors of the 1995 season to compete at the Asian level, since the domestic season for those two competitions ended before the Asian tournaments began, with Pahang winning the league in early September 1995 and Sabah the FA Cup, in early April that year.


2000 : Yet Another Miss
Winning the FA Cup in 1999, presented the City Boys with the final gateway for the next 22 years, in hindsight, to mix with the best of Asia. However, there was no Malaysian representation for Asian Cup Winners Cup and the Asian Club Championship in 2000 and the year before in 1999.


2002 Onwards : Asian Club Championship & Asian Cup Winners Cup Merged, AFC Cup and Presidents Cup Rolled Out

The AFC combined both the Asian Club Championship and the Asian Cup Winners Cup in 2002 to introduce the AFC Champions League. In 2004, they rolled out their second level tournament known as the AFC Cup, and in 2005, the third level Presidents Cup came on board.