06 August 2014

AFF Suzuki Cup groups revealed after draw in Hanoi

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
FEATURING eight of the last nine winners, Group B at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup will be hard to get out of.
Brunei, though, need to worry about qualifying for the event first.
The draw for the Nov 22-Dec 20 tournament was held in Hanoi yesterday, with defending champions and four-time winners Singapore, three-time champions Thailand and 2010 winners Malaysia drawn in Group B.
Group A will have Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines battling it out for a place in the last four of the tournament to be co-hosted by Singapore and Vietnam.
To even get to the biennial competition, though, Brunei must first get past the single round-robin qualifying competition from Oct 12-20 in Laos – a feat they failed to do so the last time around in 2012.
This year’s qualifiers will see the Sultanate join favourites Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Timor Leste – with the winner moving on to Group B and the runners-up earning a spot in Group A.
The last qualifiers in Myanmar saw Brunei start their campaign with a 1-0 loss to hosts Myanmar before beating Cambodia 3-2.
A 3-1 loss to Laos dented Brunei’s chances of making it through the tournament co-hosted by Malaysia and Thailand, but the team would end on a high after defeating Timor Leste 2-1.
Myanmar progressed to the tournament after topping the five-team qualifiers in Yangon, with Laos also advancing as runners-up.
The last time Brunei played at the tournament was the 1996 edition in Singapore, where the country lost three games and won one.
Competing in Group B, Brunei lost to Singapore (3-0), Thailand (6-0) and Malaysia (6-0), their only saving grace coming after a 1-0 win over the Philippines.
Singapore are the most successful team in the tournament after winning it for the fourth time two years ago in what was the ninth edition of the event.
They beat Thailand 3-1 in the first leg in Singapore and despite losing the second leg 1-0, held on to clinch the cup – with coach Radojko Avramović becoming the tournament’s most successful coach after previous wins in 2004 and 2007.
While Group B is seen as the “Group of Death”, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) secretary-general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin has a different view describing it as “reasonable”.

“In my opinion, there is no group of death in this tournament,” said Hamidin who was in Vietnam for the ceremony.

“I thought the draw was reasonable and in fact we prefer to play in Singapore. Playing in Singapore is something we can take advantage of, logistically in particular, as it’s nearby.

“It should also serve as good news for our fans too. It’s easier for them to travel down south... I’m sure our team will have strong support.”

The Brunei Times, The Star/ANN

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