AFF Suzuki Cup format set to change in 2018

The Asean Football Federation (AFF) is set to announce changes to the format of the AFF Suzuki Cup from 2018, it has been reported.

The tournament will be expanded to include 10 Asean nations, from its current eight, with the countries ranked 10th and 11th respectively facing each other in a playoff for a spot in the main competition.

Under the new format, there will be five teams in each group, with all teams playing two games at home and two away.

No changes have been made to qualification for the semifinals and final as the top two teams from each group will progress. Furthermore, the semifinals and final will continue to consist of two legs.

“It makes a lot of sense from a revenue perspective. There will be more games played in front of home crowds, more football on television and that means more revenue – it makes sense,” R Sasikumar, managing director of sports marketing company the Red Card Group, told the New Paper.

“The Suzuki Cup is a cornerstone event for the region and, in that sense, any format is easy to accept. This isn’t a groundbreaking change, it’s an innovation to keep the product fresh,” he added.

Former assistant coach of Thailand Steve Darby voiced his support for the changes, saying it will give the lower-ranked teams an opportunity to play against better sides on a more regular basis.

“In every tournament, there will be big boys and minnows, and this year showed that the gap is closing,” he told the New Paper.

He added that the smaller teams would get better by playing games against other Asean countries and not by playing much better sides such as South Korea in the Fifa World Cup qualifiers.