AFF to decide on Suzuki Cup fate next week

SINGAPORE - After a meeting with Singapore Sports Hub officials that lasted almost two hours on Wednesday afternoon, the Asean Football Federation (AFF) remains undecided if the biennial regional championship, the AFF Suzuki Cup, will be hosted at the National Stadium.

AFF general secretary Azzudin Ahmad said that he will convene a committee to further discuss the matter and deliver a verdict next week. The alternative plan is to switch the matches from the 55,000 stadium in Kallang to the smaller 7,500 seater Jalan Besar Stadium.

The AFF insists that stadiums should not be used for any other matches or events a minimum of 15 working days prior to the first match at AFF Cup on Nov 23, which pits the Lions against Thailand. However, Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou is holding a concert at the same venue on Nov 8.

Already, the hybrid turf made of natural grass reinforced with artificial fibre inserts had taken plenty of flak for its sandy condition. Even after $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment that hovers over the pitch was purchased a fortnight ago, the pitch still continues to suffer growing pains, evident in Tuesday's international friendly between Japan and Brazil.

Singapore are the defending champions of the regional championship after winning it for a record fourth time in 2012, adding to its previous triumphs in 1998, 2004 and 2007.

meng@sph.com.sg