It looks like a busy 2021 will get busier for Asean sports as the Asean Football Federation (AFF) has moved the 2020 Suzuki Cup to next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was supposed to be held later this year, but with the Philippines and Indonesia still struggling to contain the pandemic and Malaysia seeing an increase in numbers, that wouldn't be advisable.
So, aside from the Tokyo Olympics, the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, we will have the Suzuki Cup to prepare for. Will that pose a problem for the Philippine Football Federation? It will have to train two pools for the SEA Games, which has the Under 23 format, and the Suzuki Cup, which will have the senior team.
Though, like last time around, there will be a couple of senior players in the U23 team and a few U23 players who will make the senior team.
This December was supposed to be the 10th anniversary of the Hanoi Miracle, that Suzuki Cup campaign which saw us make the semifinal round for the very first time, but the celebration will be moved a year later. We haven't gone past the semifinal stage in the Suzuki Cup, though we've made strides in other competitions, qualifying to the Asian Cup for the first time.
Can we get past that semifinal hump next year? I sure hope so.
The Philippine Football League will play a crucial factor in that, keeping our players fit through local competition. It’s a different story in the SEA Games as we’ve never gotten past the group stage. We came so close that last time around when we hosted it, but lost that semifinal spot on goal difference.
Will Stephen Schrock, the captain of the U23 team who just signed up for United City FC in the PFL, see action again in the SEAG or will he concentrate on the Suzuki Cup? Schrock provided valuable leadership on and off the field in his first SEAG stint and that’s something the coaching staff will be looking into.
The SEA Games will also be a test for the Junior Development Team the PFF is maintaining. It’s a good concept, keeping the young players together and letting them compete locally instead of having them fly in two or three weeks before a competition to train like before.
Will that spell the difference in next year’s Seag? I sure hope so.