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AFF Championship

2020 AFF Championship moved from April to December 2021

8:02 PM MYT 07/12/2020
Mohamadou Sumareh, Malaysia, 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup
The AFF Suzuki Cup is confirmed to be rescheduled for the second time as it moves back to a more familiar month.

The 2020 AFF Championship was supposed to be played starting last month but was moved to April of 2021 because of the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.With countries around the Southeast Asia region still coping with increases of cases related to the virus and some still in occasional lockdown mode, Asean Football Federation (AFF) has relooked at their schedule once again.

Playing the tournament in April would have meant a struggle for national teams to bring their best players to the competition because it clashes with the domestic leagues as well as the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup. AFF now resets the tournament to be played in a more familiar looking November to December period where the players are free from their club commitments.

“Given the complexities around the organisation of the event, and the many people and organisations that are impacted by it, the AFF believes in taking a pragmatic approach and making a considered decision early that will allow the stakeholders in the event to have enough notice to reorganise their activities – and so that planning for the end of the year can be focused around the AFF Suzuki Cup as a great occasion for football in the region as it has always been.

“Looking at the crowded football schedule for 2021, including both international as well as domestic events which have been held over from 2020, also makes hosting our tournament in December an ideal time. The new dates, starting on 5th December and running into 1st January 2022, will provide the best opportunity for the event to be staged in its full format with home and away fixtures in both the group and knockout stages, and with stadiums filled with fans to encourage and celebrate their teams," said Major General Sameth, the president of AFF.

The new schedule should at least removed the headache for Tan Cheng Hoe and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) on what kind of team they were supposed to send for an April tournament as well as allowing the team to focus solely on the World Cup and Asian Cup qualification for the time being.

Malaysia finished as runner-up in the last edition in 2018 and with the growth and evolution of the team that culminated in a strong start to the World Cup qualification campaign, there will be a lot of expectation on Cheng Hoe for another prolonged run in the AFF Championship when it comes around later this year.