It has been confirmed that Timor Leste is the last national team that will be joining Group A for the current season of the AFF Suzuki Cup after the recent withdrawal of Brunei to the competition on November 8.
Group A Standing
Both Timor Leste and Brunei were set to play a playoff game on December 1 on which the winner will receive the final slot to the Group A and will join Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, and the current hosts for the competition Singapore Pools for the battle for supremacy in Southeast Asian football.
According to the official statement of the Asean Football Association on Monday, the Football Association of Brunei had advised them that they will be withdrawing from the playoff games with Timor-Leste due to the circumstances caused by the global pandemic to the preparations of the team.
Reasons for the Withdrawal
Matusin Matasan, the president of FABD, stated that they were disheartened for not being able to participate in the Suzuki Cup mentioning that the Covid-19 pandemic has detrimental effects on the preparations of the team even though the efforts to resolve the difficulties are ongoing, it is still not enough at this point of time.
“We bid AFF the best of luck in the upcoming event and look forward to participating in the future edition,” he stated.
Sympathy by AFF
Meanwhile, Khiev Sameth, the president of AFF said that the regional football governing body fully embraces and sympathizes with the FABD and the Brunei Darussalam national team for not being able to participate in the event.
“We understand our Asean zone has been heavily struck by the epidemic, and we’re all working to solve the issues in different ways,” he continued.
“While we shall miss seeing the Brunei national football team compete this year, we are confident that they will return better than ever before, and we look forward to their participation in the future,” he added.
Group B Standing
As for Group B which comprises Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the competition is stiff.
A good start for Malaysia in their campaign for 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup as they keep their hopes high for the team to advance into the third round of the qualifiers for the first try. However, the mandatory break due to the coronavirus outbreak and the failure of having a home advantage bid those hopes goodbye.
Although finishing a third place behind the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam, both of which have a high ranking in the FIFA World, should not be looked at as a small achievement as defeating the long-standing Southeast Asian champions Thailand for the second time by Tan Cheng Hoe’s squad is an immortal achievement.
Last season’s campaign in Tan’s first appearance as the head coach envisioned the team will advance into the finals being barely overthrown by Vietnam and there will be renewed confidence on their part on having three years of experience on their arsenal.
Being placed in Group B, this roster was seen by the sports analysts as the weaker one of the two groups, Malaysia will again battle it out against Vietnam and then there is the dreaded match against Indonesia.
Vietnam is surely the fan-favorite in Group B, being long-time champions and always bringing something new to the table. However, it is time for other teams to step up in this tournament as the battle for supremacy in Southeast Asian football continues.
The AFF Suzuki Cup has been one of the major regional competitions that have been affected by the ongoing global pandemic especially during the months when the new variants are spreading across the region. It is good that the sporting industry in this region of Asia is slowly recovering.
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