The 2014 Suzuki Cup draw
Hanoi, August 5: Four-time winners and titleholders Singapore have been drawn against arch-rivals and 2010 champions Malaysia and always-tough Thailand in a juicy Group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014.
In the official draw made in Hanoi on Tuesday, group hosts Singapore were handed the toughest of assignments in ASEAN’s most prestigious tournament which kicks off on November 22.
They will be joined in the group by the winner of the Qualifying Round played in October involving hosts Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor Leste and Brunei Darussalum.
Co-hosts and 2008 champions Vietnam will take on the Philippines, who have reached the semis of the last two editions, 2010 finalists Indonesia and the Qualifying Round runners-up.
“We are a developing squad but go into the AFF Suzuki Cup with great optimism!” said Vietnam’s Japanese coach Toshiya Miura.
“All the games will be tough and we will be training very hard over the next three months to make sure we can challenge for the trophy, which is especially important as host nation.”
The semi-finals and the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup will be played on a home and away basis from December 6 to 20.
This year’s group encounters will see a number of mouthwatering re-matches.
Singapore beat Malaysia 3-0 in their opening match of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup in Kuala Lumpur and downed three-time champions Thailand in the two-legged final.
New force the Philippines underlined their growing reputation with a 2-0 victory over defending champions Vietnam at the group stage four years ago in Hanoi, a result that the Group A hosts will be keen to reverse in November.
“As we saw when we played in the AFC Challenge Cup in May it does not matter how the teams are ranked. You must take every game very seriously. This is certainly the case in the AFF Suzuki Cup,” said Thomas Dooley, the Philippine coach and former captain of the United States.
Both Vietnam and Indonesia failed to make it out of their respective groups at the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup and they will be hoping to atone in this year’s competition.
Former Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic, whose Myanmar team will be one of the favourites to go through in the Qualifiers, said: “Not many tournaments can fill their stadiums like the AFF Suzuki Cup. Also we used to talk about just a couple of teams winning but now five countries have a chance. The AFF Suzuki Cup is very, very important for the region and will be even more so in the future.”
The biennial AFF Suzuki Cup to crown the kings of ASEAN football stirs the passions of patriotic fans throughout the region who closely follow the action at the stadia and on television.
Raucous, flag-waving crowds are a feature of the tournament, which dominates conversations at home, in the office and on social networking sites and enthuses everyone from Presidents to pre-schoolers.
The spanking new, 55,000-seater National Stadium, part of the Sports Hub project, will house matches in Singapore while the group in Vietnam will be played at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi where the celebrated Le Cong Vinh’s headed goal in overtime presented his country with the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time in December, 2008.
Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore and Hanoi’s Hang Day Stadium will each host one match in the group stage.
The venue for the qualifying tournament will be the National Sports Complex in Laos.
The Official Draw also saw Mitre Sports International announced as the Official Football Supplier to the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014. The teams will play with Mitre’s brand new professional football, the Delta V12S.