Malaysia ready as Philippines given Suzuki Cup extension

The Asean Football Federation (AFF) has given the Philippines until March 11 to secure a stadium for the biennial Suzuki Cup competition, failing which Malaysia will co-host along with Myanmar. 

Philippines are still in the running to co-host the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup after the AFF competition committee accepted a plea for an extension by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) on Monday.

Last month, Philippines were withdrawn from hosting the competition after failing to submit a written stadium hire contract to the AFF.

Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam were initially on standby before the latter two withdrew their interest.

However, PFF is now confident of reaching an agreement with Philippine Sports Stadium and PFF president Mariano Araneta has convinced the committee to give the association more time to secure a stadium for the year-end competition.

The AFF council will meet in Da Nang, Vietnam on March 12 to decide the venue once and for all.

“Araneta made an appeal to the competition committee seeking for a final deadline and the committee agreed to give Philippines an extension until March 11 to present an official contract between them and the venue owner,” said AFF general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad.

“Failing which, the hosting rights will automatically go to Malaysia as Singapore and Vietnam withdrew their bids.

Vietnam and Singapore had previously expressed interest of replacing Philippines as co-hosts but have since pulled out of contention. Vietnam and Singapore hosted the previous edition in 2014.

Philippines have never hosted the Suzuki Cup while Malaysia co-hosted the competition with Thailand in 2012.

The competition committee appears open to the idea of accepting the 20,000-seater Philippine Sports Stadium as a venue despite competition regulations stating a minimum 30,000-capacity stadium is required as the primary venue of group stage matches.