While five-time champions Thailand may be the favourites in Group A of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020, the focus will surely be on hosts Singapore when the much-anticipated biennial championship starts tomorrow at the National Stadium.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still hovering over the horizon, the organisation of the 13th edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup will hopefully be a catalyst to returning a sense of normalcy to the region.
And this thought certainly is not lost on the coaches who were at this afternoon’s pre-match press conference with Thailand’s Alexandre Polking saying that with the COVID-19 situation, it has made things volatile.
“We know that in this tournament Thailand have a very good history in the past and with Vietnam the current champion, we do not want to make it about just Thailand and Vietnam, as there are eight other teams taking part.
“But we have the players and we feel very strong at the moment, given the current quality of the Thai League. We know the target and we know what we are capable of. And that is why we are here.”
Added Singapore head coach Tatsuma Yoshida: “Of course there will be pressure as we are the hosts, but I think it will be good pressure for the team. We know the fans are always behind us and it is a big positive to be able to play in front of them again.
“For a long time, we could not have major sports events in Singapore (due to the pandemic) so everyone is looking forward to this tournament. We have to show our fighting spirit, play as a team and try to get the three points for the supporters.”
“We have some difficulties along the way. The (Myanmar) league has been off for the last one a half years. We have some players who cannot be with us, so we have to make certain adjustments to the current squad.
“But we started to prepare the team for the last month in Turkey, so we have tried to do things better. But Singapore are the favourites in this match (Myanmar’s opening game in Group A tomorrow) because they are the hosts.” – Myanmar head coach Antoine Hey
“Pressure is not an emotion, it is something which you brought on yourself. So I don’t believe in pressure. But with the pandemic, it has surely made things not easy.
“We have a new squad of experienced players and the youngsters coming through the ranks. But we have to work on the blend of the players and their attitude has been very good. They have accepted the situation, and so for us, it is to make sure that the players can be the best they can possibly be.” – Philippine head coach Stewart Hall.
“We have a very young squad and for most of the players, they have been here since the AFC U23 (Asian Cup qualifiers at the end of October). There are several strong teams here but we will try to be competitive.
“Over the last two years, these young players have learned the finer aspects of the game and they are much better individuals when compared to previous squads. I think and I hope that they can bring some surprise to this group.” – Timor Leste head coach Fabio Maciel
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2020
FIXTURES – 5 November 2021
GROUP A (All matches at the National Stadium)
1730: Timor Leste vs Thailand
2030: Singapore vs Myanmar