PHUKET CITY: Phuket has been designated as the new Thai venue for Group B play in the AFF Suzuki Cup. Formerly known as the Tiger Cup, the tournament is the biggest in Southeast Asia and the only regional football competition to feature senior squads of all Asean nations.
A spokesperson for the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) confirmed that Phuket will host matches on December 6, 8 and 10 at Surakul Stadium in Phuket City.
The FAT decided that Phuket is the best alternative due to the ongoing unrest and disruptions to air travel in Bangkok.
“There’s too much trouble in Bangkok, so we’ve decided to switch the venue,” Thai FA chief Worawi Makudi said. “All parties have agreed this is the best solution to the problem and Phuket is a very suitable alternative because it is not affected by the political situation. And Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos can all fly directly to Phuket International Airport.”
Eight teams will compete for the AFF Suzuki Cup trophy and the US$100,000 in prize money. The top six seeded ASEAN nations, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, will be joined by qualifiers Laos and Cambodia to make up the final field of eight nations.
The competition consists of two group stages followed by semifinals and finals, which will be contested over two legs on a home and away basis.
Phuket will be playing host to Group B, which consists of Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos. Group A, which will be based in Jakarta, comprises Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia. The top two teams from each group will go on to the semifinals.
Surakul Stadium, which got a 38-million-baht upgrade to host the Fifa Women’s Under-19 Championship in 2004, has already been approved by Fifa, Mr Worawi said.
In the last AFF Suzuki Cup final in early 2007, Singapore won a heartbreaker with the winning goal coming in the 82nd minute of the second leg, played in front of a capacity crowd at Supachalasai Stadium in Bangkok.
This year, the Thai team, managed by former England international Peter Reid, will be strong favorites to win the title for a fourth time.
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