Asian football

Singapore to host 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup

Beatrice Go
Singapore to host 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup

CENTRALIZED VENUE. Singapore will welcome the teams from the 11 member nations of the ASEAN Football Federation.

Photo by Glen Charles Lopez/Philippine Football Federation

The Philippine Azkals will start preparing for their bid to clinch a historic final berth in this tournament among Southeast Asian countries

Singapore will be the venue for 2021 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, organizers announced on Tuesday, September 28.

The tournament, which features the 11 countries in the Southeast Asian region, was held on a home-and-away basis in 2018. This year though it will be played in a centralized format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We welcome the ASEAN Football Federation’s selection of Singapore as host of the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup. Singapore has a wonderful track record in hosting major competitions and we are confident that this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup will be conducted with the health and safety of players and staff as the main priority amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta.

According to Araneta, the national federation will start coordinating with the Philippine Azkals on their campaign.

“Now that the host country has been determined, the PFF can now map out its plans with the management of the Philippine Men’s National Team in preparation for the tournament,” added Araneta.

But for Azkals head coach Scott Cooper, he admitted that the preparations are the team’s top concern as the players are seeing action in leagues of different countries.

“I think for now we can’t have early trainings camps unlike Singapore or Thailand can because our players are scattered worldwide and that’s still going to be a logistical challenge for us to see who we can bring in like the players who aren’t in season and the players in season,” said Cooper.

“We cannot be at full strength, but we’ll still give our best shot.”

The Azkals are aiming to surpass their semifinal finish and clinch a historic final berth.

The Philippines is bunched in Group A together with five-time champion Thailand, Myanmar, host Singapore and the winner of a playoff featuring Brunei and Timor Leste.

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Azkals drawn vs 5-time champion Thailand in 2021 Suzuki Cup

Azkals drawn vs 5-time champion Thailand in 2021 Suzuki Cup

Defending champion Vietnam has been drawn to play Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos in Group B.

The competition has already been delayed by a year after being postponed because of coronavirus restrictions.

The tournament will kick off on December 5 with the final scheduled for January 1. – with a report from Reuters/Rappler.com

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.