Aga Khan Gold Cup

The Aga Khan Gold Cup was played in Dhaka, Bangladesh which invited top club sides from leading football playing nations of Asia to compete. Many renowned football pundits regard this competition as a predecessor of AFC Champions League (held for the first time in 1967), since it was the first organized international competition that involved club teams around Asia.[1][2][3] During the late 1950s and early 1980s, it was a prestigious tournament among Asian clubs.

Aga Khan Gold Cup
Organising bodyBangladesh BFF
Abolished1981; 41 years ago (1981)
RegionAsia (AFC)
Number of teamsvarious
Last championsBangkok Bank
Brothers Union (shared) (1st title)
Most successful club(s)Mohammedan Sporting Club
(3 titles)


When Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini of Iran, now known as Aga Khan IV visited Dhaka in 1958, he expressed his interest in starting a major international football club tournament in the region. With his highness providing the funding required for the Gold Cup, the football authorities of East Pakistan, in collaboration with Asian Football Confederation decided to go ahead with the idea. Dhaka, the football capital of the country, was the choice as the venue. The hope was to gradually develop this event into the main international club competition of Asia, with the winning team as unofficial Asian Champions'.[1] However, the tournament expectation has not been reached, as various associations insisted on sending national selections (the team that was formed by top clubs players in the National League) rather than clubs. The tournament was stopped after 1981.


Teams from both East Pakistan and West Pakistan regularly participated in the event. Among the foreign countries, Indonesia almost always sent a team, and their team won the event three times.[4] The Indian club from Calcutta, Mohammedan Sporting played brilliant football to lift the 1960 trophy.[5] Sri Lanka sent teams regularly with modest success. The uneasy political relationship between Malaysia and Indonesia meant that the Malaysian football authorities frequently declined invitation to participate, and it was not until 1976 when Penang FA won it.

In 1958, The Karachi Kickers led by Abdul Ghafoor Majna became the first champions, defeating their city rivals Karachi Mohammedans. The Dhaka Mohammedan won the double next year, winning the Aga Khan Gold Cup along with the Dhaka League title. It was another Mohammedan, this time the black and whites from Calcutta, who lifted the trophy the next year. The final between the Calcutta giants and PSM Makassar from Indonesia is still regarded as one of the best matches ever played at Dhaka. The Indonesians went into the final as the favorites, but the Makran players of Calcutta Mohammedan triumphed in the final, winning 3–1. The following year, Indonesia triumphed with a 5–0 win in the final against Pakistan Railways F.C. The Indonesian football at that time was on a high. In August, their national team had lifted the Merdeka cup in Malaysia, while their junior team was joint champions in Asian Youth football. The team at Dhaka was a mixture of these teams, but it was officially regarded as the Indonesia XI. After two years of foreign domination, local pride was restored by Dhaka League inaugural champion, Victoria SC, in 1962. In another one-sided final, they thrashed the Young Taegeuk Football Association, the feeder team from South Korea 5–1 in the final. Like the Calcutta Mohammedan, the Victoria side was filled with Makran players. Many at the time considered Victoria SC side to be the strongest club side in South Asia.[6][7] To further emphasize the strength of Pakistani football at the time, the Pakistan Railways F.C. (West Pakistan) won the trophy the next year. Dhaka Mohammedan and Karachi Port Trust F.C. shared the honor in 1964. As Pakistan got involved in a war with India in 1965, no tournament was held that year. When the event restarted a year later, the PSSI Young Garuda or the feeder team from Indonesia emerged as the champs. They defeated Dhaka Mohammedan in the final 2–1. PSMS Medan (Indonesia) won the cup in 1967. But, the Indonesian domination was broken in 1968, as Dhaka Mohammedan, the most successful club in Aga Khan Gold Cup history, won the cup. After a break in 1969, due to political unrest, the 1970 final saw the Bargh Shiraz F.C. of Iran defeat the Persebaya Surabaya of Indonesia 2–1 in the final. This was the last Aga Khan Gold Cup in Pakistan, as the East got separated from the west in 1971, with the eastern half emerging as the new independent nation of Bangladesh with Dhaka as its capital.

After the Independence (1975–1981)Edit

The nine month long liberation war of Bangladesh devastated the region. There was widespread genocide and most of the Bengali football players had to flee to Calcutta (West Bengal, India) to save their lives. There they formed a team called Shadhin Bangla Football Team, under the leadership of Dhaka Mohammedan captain Zakaria Pintoo. Also included in the side was the budding striker Kazi Salahuddin, who became the greatest footballer from Bangladesh. Later on in 2008, 28 April, he was elected as the president of Bangladesh Football Federation. Back in 1971, the Swadhin Bangla team played a number of exhibition games against different teams of West Bengal to increase the support for the independence of Bangladesh. After the war, the authorities gradually tried to rebuild the infrastructure of football. The Dhaka League restarted in 1973, and in 1975, the authorities were ready to restart the Aga khan Gold Cup. Raj-Vithi F.C. of Thailand, and the FC Punjab Police team from India were among the foreign participants. However, the political situation of Dhaka became very volatile at the time forcing the organizers to abandon the event. In November 1976, Penang FC, Malaysia took on Dacca MSC in the final. The One sided final saw Penang win 3–0. Shukor Salleh dominated the midfield, and both the Bakar brothers, Isa Bakar and Ali Bakar got in the score-sheet It was a big disappointment for Dhaka Mohammedan to lose in the final. They were the Dacca League champions and their supporters were hoping for a double. The Iran club from Sepidrood Rasht F.C. lifted the 1977/78 season trophy. They defeated an Indian team 3–0 in the final.

In October 1978, Dhaka hosted the Asian Youth football tournament. So, BFF felt that holding the Aga Khan Gold Cup tournament that year would not be a good idea. So, the next event took place in 1979. This was the biggest event (in terms of teams or matches) after independence. But, at the end the teams as well as the spectators got a bit bored. The two group stages were unnecessary. And to make matter worse for the organizers, there was huge discrepancy among the strengths of the different sides. The Chinese team, Liaoning Whowin F.C. started their campaign with a 9-0 drubbing of Nepal XI Selection. The Burmese side, Finance and Revenue FC thrashed the Dhaka Wanderers 8–0. Abahani was the most successful local side, but for the third time in a row, they lost in the semifinal to eventual champions (this time NIAC Mitra from Indonesia). Like the Chinese, the team from Indonesia showed their strength early in the event, as they beat a strong Korea League XI Selection side 4–1 in the first group stages. The striker Dullah Rahim and midfielder Shamsul Arefin were among the best players of the tournament. In the Semi final, they easily beat Abahani 2–0. The Liaoning side defeated Burma, Finance and Revenue FC 2–1 in the other semi final. The final was a drab affair. After a 1–1 draw, the NIAC Mitra side prevailed in the penalty shoot-out win against Liaoning Whowin FC.

In 1981, the ten team event proved much more successful. Good crowds gathered to watch the matches, despite the simultaneous World Cup Hockey tournament in Mumbai. However, some internal disputes among the football authorities of the country meant that this was the last edition of the cup. For the second time since independence, two local teams made it to the semifinals. Three-time times winner Dhaka Mohammedan, was joined by Brothers Union. Brothers won in an upset in the first semifinal, defeating the Oman XI Selection. In the other semi final, Bangkok Bank F.C. won 3–1. The Bangkok side was the clear favorite for the finals, but having got so close, the Brothers Union side was determined to show their best, and achieved a 1–1 draw. There was no provision of penalty shoot-outs and the two teams were declared join champions.[8]

In March 1981, Dhaka hosted the President's Gold Cup. The organizers of the new event declared their intention to make it a competition among the national teams of the region. However, very soon it was clear that the invited countries were sending their youth teams or club teams for the event. Two international club competitions at the same city looked unnecessary, and the authorities BFF decided to continue the President's Gold Cup and end the Aga Khan Gold Cup. The President's Gold Cup itself became a start and stop affair before its end in 1993.

A Possible RevivalEdit

Over the last two decades there has been a big change in the sporting culture of Bangladesh. Cricket has replaced football as the number one passion of young generation. Many consider football to be a minority sports in the country now. In this situation, Kazi Salahuddin took over the Bangladesh Football Federation presidency in 2008. Salahuddin immediately took some steps to restore the image of football within the country. During the summer of 2009, there was some talk in the local media about the restarting the Aga Khan Gold Cup. There was interest among all the parties involved, and there was keen interest shown by the TV channels as well. However, after the initial euphoria, the idea subsided.[9]


Below are the list of champions in Aga Khan Gold Cup tournament since 1958.[1]

Season Champion Country
1958 Karachi Kickers   West Pakistan
1959 Mohammedan Sporting Club   East Pakistan
1960 Mohammedan Sporting Club Kolkata   India
1961 Indonesia XI   Indonesia
1962 Victoria SC   East Pakistan
1963 Pakistan Railways   West Pakistan
1964 Mohammedan Sporting Club
Karachi Port Trust (shared)
  East Pakistan
  West Pakistan
1966 Indonesia U-23   Indonesia
1967 PSMS Medan   Indonesia
1968 Mohammedan Sporting Club   East Pakistan
Not held
1970 Bargh Shiraz   Iran
Tournament abandoned
1976 Penang FA   Malaysia
1977 Sepidrood Rasht   Iran
Not held
1979 Niac Mitra   Indonesia
Not held
1981 Bangkok Bank
Brothers Union (shared)

Performances by CountryEdit

Performances by nation[10][11][12][13]
Country Titles
  Bangladesh1 5
  Indonesia 4
  Pakistan2 3
  Iran 2
  India 1
  Malaysia 1
  Thailand 1

1 Includes four titles as East Pakistan.
2 Pakistan competed as West Pakistan.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Tom Lewis, Neil Morrison, Novan Herfiyana, Karel Stokkermans (2003). "Aga Khan Gold Cup (Dhaka, Bangladesh): Aga Khan Gold Cup 1960". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Aga Khan Gold Cup, Turnamen Tempat Wakil Indonesia Sering Juara" (in Indonesian). Indosport. Archived from the original on 26 May 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Emergence (1963–1970)". All Info Nepal. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Indonesia di Aga Khan Gold Cup" (in Indonesian). Novan Media Research. Archived from the original on 6 December 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  5. ^ "ব্রিটিশকে হারিয়ে ডুরান্ড জয়ী, পাকিস্তানকেও গোল দিয়ে চিরকালীন নজির মহামেডানের". (in Bengali). 1 September 2021. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Football before the birth of Bangladesh". Dhaka Tribune. 4 March 2018.
  7. ^ Rahman, Anisur (6 July 2018). "Bangladesh football: then and now". The Daily Star.
  8. ^ "ফিরে আসছে আগা খান গোল্ড কাপ!". 22 November 2011.
  9. ^ প্রতিবেদক, ক্রীড়া. "'ব্রাদার্সের সব অহংকার শেষ হয়ে গেল'". Prothomalo.
  10. ^ "Abdul Ghafoor Majna (1938-2012) by Riaz Ahmed". Football Pakistan. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  11. ^ "Catatan Gemilang Indonesia di Aga Khan Gold Cup, Cikal Bakal Liga Champions Asia" (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Mohammedan Sporting Club Adds a Gloomy 'First' to Its Glittering Past". Sports.ndtv(India). Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Former Penang player Boon Kheng dies at 76". The Star(Malaysia). Archived from the original on 8 July 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2016.

External linksEdit