Thailand still hosts ASEAN Cup’s Group B

The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) announced Sunday that Phuket in southern Thailand is the venue for the 2008 AFF Cup’s Group B to replace Bangkok currently in political crisis. 

The announcement came out just five days before the kick-off of regional tournament, which is also AFF Suzuki Cup,

AFF could not make a final decision on substitution for turmoil-hit Bangkok through urgent meetings at its Kuala Lumpur headquarters on Friday and Saturday. Finally the regional football governing body announced the name of Phuket, neither Vietnam nor Indonesia, after checking facilities in the Thai coastal city.

“There's too much trouble in Bangkok, so we've decided to switch the venue,” Worawi Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), was quoted by Bangkok Post on Sunday.

The 15,000-sit Sarakul Stadium will be the main competition venue, AFF announced.

Bangkok Post quoted Makudi as saying that AFF officials had inspected the stadium and was pleased with the venue. He added the other venue, which will host only one game, will be the main stadium in nearby Phangnga Province.

Vietnam’s national team are training at Thanh Long Stadium, HCM City for the upcoming ASEAN Cup (Photo: SGGP)

Over the past three days, AFF discussed three options that Thailand would still keep the rights to host Group B, or Vietnam would replace Thailand, or Group B would play in Indonesia’s Jakarta together with Group A. After all, Phuket was selected.

As an AFF member, Vietnam Football Federation needs to respect the regional football governing body, said VFF president Nguyen Trong Hy.

Phuket, which was hit hard by devastating tsunami in late December 2004, will play host to the national teams of Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam in Group B of the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup.

Meanwhile, Group A that will be based in Jakarta will have hosts Indonesia, defending champions Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The group matches will take place from December 5 to 10. The semifinals are set for December 16, 17, 20 and 21 on the home and away basis. The knock-out for the bronze media will take place on December 24, and the final will be played on December 28.

Coach Henrique Calisto (C) on the job at Thanh Long Stadium (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

At present, the Vietnamese players under Portuguese-born coach Henrique Calisto are training at the Thanh Long Stadium in HCMC. In their first game in the tournament on December 6, they will play Thailand, who are under former England international Peter Reid, the coach that departed from the Coventry City Club in 2005.

Last 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 result 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 Singapore and Thailand, Calisto said his squad were in the right track for the AFF Cup. He told the AFF website he believes that his team can perform a lot better if there is less pressure heaped on the players.

“This is the challenge which I’m facing now where I need to mould the individual strength of the players to make them an effective unit when they play together in the international arena,” Calisto was quoted on the website.

By Tuong Vy

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