AFF Suzuki Cup postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnam's early goal in the Suzuki Cup final against Malaysia in Hanoi was enough to clinch the match
Vietnam are the defending AFF Suzuki Cup champions, winning in 2018. (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The biennial ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, which was originally scheduled to be held at the end of this year, has been postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a media statement on Thursday (30 July), the AFF said that decision to postpone the tournament will safeguard the well-being of everyone involved, in view of the “rapidly deteriorating coronavirus situation, regionally and globally”.

“This pandemic continues to pose enormous health, societal and economic challenges to us all,” said AFF president, Major General Khiev Sameth from Cambodia.

“With the risk of the spread of COVID-19 remaining high, the AFF finds itself in a situation where we cannot proceed safely with the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020.

“While these are unprecedented times for the whole world including our football family and communities, we are confident that we will get through it together with the support of all our stakeholders.”

Last held in 2018, won by Vietnam

The Suzuki Cup was last held in 2018, and was won by Vietnam after they beat Malaysia 3-2 on aggregate in the two-legged final. The edition drew more than 750,000 fans across Southeast Asia.

The 2018 tournament was also the first time in which teams play home and away matches from the group stage to the final.

AFF is reportedly considering to return to an older format, with just one host country throughout the tournament, in order to cater for easier logistics amid travel restrictions and quarantine orders.

Last Sunday, defending champions Vietnam were forced to suspend its domestic football leagues, following news of locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases in the country for the first time in more than three months.

Singapore are four-time champions of the Suzuki Cup, winning in 1998, 2005, 2007 and 2012. Thailand are the most successful national team in the tournament, winning on five occasions (1996, 2000, 2002, 2014 and 2016).

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