Malaysia launches Asian Cup advertising campaign

Stung by criticism for trying to simultaneously organise the AFC Asian Cup 2007 and a visit by Manchester United FC, Malaysian authorities have returned all their attention to the marquee regional football event. "There are no distractions now, so we are confident that we will be ready to be a fantastic host," Hamidin Mohamad Amin, head of Malaysia's logistics committee for the Asian Cup, told Associated Press. "Our preparations are in tiptop condition in the important areas such as ensuring security and suitable accommodation for the teams and foreign visitors."

Football Association of Malaysia's Assistant General Secretary, Noor Kefli Mohamad Sulong, said the AFC should not fret any longer about Malaysia's commitment to the Asian Cup, since promotional banners and posters adorn prominent streets and an advertising campaign has been launched.

"In our opinion, we are doing as much as we can to promote the Asian Cup," Noor Kefli told AP. However, he warned that the AFC should not expect full houses for the matches. He estimated that matches featuring Malaysia would probably draw up to 30,000 spectators, barely one-third the capacity of the 100,000-seat Bukit Jalil National Stadium where most of the matches will be played.

Officials sensed a lack of public enthusiasm recently when an Asian Cup Football Festival, featuring football clinics and other activities in a Kuala Lumpur park, attracted only about 400 people. "But the people's interest should improve later. Malaysians never really care about publicity campaigns. But when the time comes, they will still buy tickets to support the national team and the tournament," Noor Kefli said.