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Suzuki Cup to ditch home-away format

By: Cedelf P. Tupas - Philippine Daily Inquirer | June 19,2020 - 07:46 AM

The AFF (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup—the most prestigious football tournament in the region—is pushing through in November, possibly in a centralized venue as Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, continue dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Although the situation is still “fluid” in several countries, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said the AFF decided not to make any changes with the schedule of the biennial competition during its virtual meeting on Wednesday. The Azkals have been one of the more successful teams in the tournament in the last 10 years, reaching the semifinals four times. And captain Stephan Schrock would love nothing more than to lift the trophy this year.

“The Suzuki Cup is one of our goals this year,” Schrock said. “It would be nice to make history.”

But unlike the 2018 edition where teams traveled almost after every game owing to the home-and-away format starting with the group stage, the AFF might just put the tournament in one country because of the health crisis.

Aside from the Suzuki Cup, the Azkals still have three more matches in Fifa World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Qualifying from October until November. Araneta said they have yet to decide on the venues for the home matches as football is still prohibited under quarantine rules in the country. The Azkals also have a game against China in November. “Everything is still fluid because of the quarantine rules in different countries,” Araneta said.

Except for Vietnam, which resumed its season last month, majority of the football leagues in the region have yet to restart.

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