AFF delays cup co-hosting decision amid Thai turmoil

An urgent meeting Friday of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) did not make a final decision on the host country for Group B of the AFF Cup, which was already scheduled in Thailand, Vietnam football officials said.

The afternoon meeting at the AFF headquarters in Kuala Lumpur decided to wait until today to decide in another meeting whether to take away Thailand’s co-hosting right of this group, which is comprised of Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the Vietnam Football Federation.

VFF general secretary Tran Quoc Tuan and vice president Duong Vu Lam, who is also an AFF vice president, attended the Friday meeting and informed Vietnamese reporters of what was happening in Kuala Lumpur. Three plans were set out, according to them.

The Vietnam team are training at Thanh Long Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City for the forthcoming ASEAN Cup (Photo: SGGP)

First, the group B matches would be still played in Bangkok on December 6-12 as earlier scheduled if the Football Association of Thailand succeeds in proving they can meets security requirements and ensure smooth transportation for the competing teams.

Second, if AFF refuses Thailand, which announced Thursday the state of emergency in Bangkok because of the political turmoil, Vietnam will host Group B if the Singapore-based World Sports Group – the exclusive marketing partner of AFF and the co-organizers of the cup – has enough time for its preparations.

The last plan is the four teams in Group B will play in Jakarta together with Group A, which is comprised of hosts Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia. 

Vietnam Football Federation president Nguyen Trong Hy said amid the current political turmoil in Thailand, Vietnam is a good place to host Group B.

“Vietnam has successfully hosted events bigger than the AFF Cup such as the 2007 Asian Cup. In addition, Vietnam’s facilities are already available and meet the AFF requirements.

Vietnamese players read newspaper during their training time to know news about the ASEAN Cup (Photo: SGGP)

Right yesterday after the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, VFF officials had an internal meeting in Hanoi to discuss preparations they need to do if Vietnam receives the rights to host Group B.

Anyway, Football Association of Thailand president Datuk Worawi Makudi told Thai newspapers Thursday that his agency would try at its best to keep the group in his country.

In related news, Bangkok Post reported Friday that Thai head coach Peter Reid would announce the 22 players for the AFF immediately after the team return to Bangkok today from Nakhon Ratchasima where they have been training.

Thailand coach Peter Reid said he was hoping that Kritsadee Prakobkong, who is currently injured, would be fit for the tournament.

“I want him in the team because he played well against Vietnam, but if he cannot recover we have plenty of options,” Bangkok Post quoted the Englishmen as saying.

Concerning reports that the event could be moved to another country due to the tense political situation in Bangkok, Reid said he would prefer his team played in front of their own fans but they are prepared to play anywhere if necessary.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese players under Portuguese-born coach Henrique Calisto are undergoing their training session in Ho Chi Minh City.

Earlier this week, Vietnam drew AFF defending champions Singapore 2-2 in an away friendly. On November 16, Calisto’s men drew the Thais with the same score in Hanoi in the last game of the T&T Cup.

In earlier matches to prepare for the ASEAN Cup, the Vietnamese players lost 0-1 to Indonesia, 2-3 to the Chinese Olympic team, 0-2 to Brazil’s Olympic team, and 0-1 to a Korean University team.

Given the two draws with Thailand and Singapore, Calisto said his squad were in the right track for the AFF Cup.

In the 2002 regional cup, Vietnam, also under the Portuguese coach, won the bronze medal.

By Nguyen Huu

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