THE twice-postponed AFF Suzuki Cup will now be held on December 2021, the ASEAN Football Federation announced Monday night.
Originally scheduled to take place on November 23-December 31, the AFF on September moved the region’s most prestigious football tournament and was supposed to be staged on April 11 to May 8 next year.
AFF president Khiev Sameth said that the Suzuki Cup will be played in its full format – on a home and away basis across Southeast Asia, from December 5, 2021 to January 1, 2022.
With the COVID-19 pandemic that continued to wreck havoc the sporting world, the decision reflected the continued priority of the AFF which is the health and safety. It also provided greater certainty to all of the event’s stakeholders, including the AFF member associations, teams, players and officials, commercial partners and fans.
The Philippines has made it to the semifinals in four of the last five competitions (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018) but has not yet reached the final. The 2020 edition was supposed to be the 10th year anniversary of the “Miracle of Hanoi”, where the Azkals pulled off a shock 2-0 win over Vietnam on Dec. 5, 2010 at the My Dinh Stadium.
The AFF Suzuki Cup postponements left the Philippines without international competition this year.
“As always, our first priority is the health and safety of everyone connected with the event. As such, we have been monitoring COVID-19 developments, both within ASEAN and in the wider world, on a continuous basis. While there have been encouraging results in vaccine development, we are cognizant that the process of vaccine approval, as well as the practicalities of the distribution and implementation of vaccine programs across the world including ASEAN will take some time,” said Sameth in a statement.
Given the complexities around the organization of the event, and those who are impacted by it, the AFF believes in taking a pragmatic approach and making a considered decision early that will allow the stakeholders in the event to have enough notice to reorganize their activities.
“Looking at the crowded football schedule for 2021, including both international as well as domestic events which have been held over from 2020, also makes hosting our tournament in December an ideal time,” said the Cambodian Major General.
The AFF will continue to work closely with the various member associations and partners to provide further updates on the tournament.