The Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup has been postponed for a second time and will now take place from Dec 5 next year to Jan 1, 2022.
The biennial tournament was originally scheduled for last month before it was pushed back to April next year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement yesterday, the AFF said: “This decision reflects the continued priority of AFF which is the health and safety of everyone, and (it) has also been made to provide greater certainty to all of the event’s stakeholders, including the AFF member associations, teams, players and officials, commercial partners and fans.
AFF president Khiev Sameth of Cambodia noted that December was ideal for the tournament as the football schedule next year will be crowded due to international and domestic events being held over from this year.
He said: “The new dates 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.”
The Singapore national team are the second most successful team in the competition’s history with four titles, one behind Thailand. However, the Lions have not made it past the group stage into the two-legged semi-finals in the three editions after they last won the tournament in 2012.
Football Association of Singapore president Lim Kia Tong said: “We support the decision to postpone the tournament because this allows more time for the pandemic situation to stabilise, and give the Lions more time to prepare and get back into the groove of things.”
Lions forward Gabriel Quak added: “The Suzuki Cup is the biggest tournament in the region and we are all looking forward to play in it.
“We can no longer take anything for granted in these uncertain times, and this postponement will give players more opportunities to impress the national coach.”
The last time Singapore made it past the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup