Football: AFF mulling over changes to Suzuki Cup format for 2018 edition

Singapore football fans moving a banner around the stadium stand during the  AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 match between Singapore and Thailand.
Singapore football fans moving a banner around the stadium stand during the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 match between Singapore and Thailand. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

The 2018 edition of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup could be set for a new look.

The Football Channel Asia website reported yesterday that the AFF is considering changes to the competition format of the biennial regional tournament, which was last won by Thailand in 2014.

The website reported that each national team would get to play two matches on home soil and two away games in the group stage. There will be a draw to determine this.

Currently, the tournament format sees the event co-hosted by two countries during the group stage.

For example, the group stage for this year's Nov 19-Dec 17 edition will be played in the Philippines and in Myanmar.

There will be no change, however, to the semi-finals and final, which will stick to a two-legged, home-and-away format.

When contacted last night, AFF secretary general Azzuddin Ahmad told The Straits Times: "We have not finalised any changes as yet."

When asked to comment on the proposals, a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman said in a statement: "We are constantly working with the AFF to look at different ways to improve the AFF Suzuki Cup.

"The proposed changes are one of several possibilities being explored, but a final decision has not yet been made.

"We will continue to work closely with the AFF and other Asean member associations to make this year's edition a success."

If the changes were to take effect, it would make it easier for Singaporean football fans to watch the Lions play in the regional tournament, without having to travel overseas.

Said Rakif Assar, 57, a limousine chauffeur: "It's more convenient for my family and I to support the national team. If it's in Malaysia, it's still okay.

"But if the matches are held in (places like) the Philippines, then it's more difficult to travel to watch them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'AFF mulling over changes to Suzuki Cup format for 2018 edition'. Print Edition | Subscribe