BY NIK AFIQ Follow on Twitter
For the first time in AFF Championship history, FIFA rankings points is set to be awarded to AFF Suzuki Cup for the 2016 edition.
The latest edition of AFF Suzuki Cup is now being recognised by FIFA as a category A-Ranked tournament, after the previous 10 editions were only being recognised as a friendly competition.
Taken from ESPN FC, the AFF General Secretary, Datuk Seri Azzuddin Ahmad said: “We recently got declaration from the Asian Football Confederation that the AFF Cup now offers international ranking points.”
“We had got our 11 members associations to make and appeal to the AFC. Through their backing and support, the AFF Cup has now risen in prestige.”
Some of the major factors that led to the recognition by FIFA is the increasing of viewing figures over the years and well as improved commercial partnerships.“This tournament has been offering encouraging figures not only in this region, but throughout the world. It is our premier tournament, our global bank to market comprehensively.”
The tournament is also set to eliminate the four-nation qualifiers, which was won by Cambodia this year, if they managed to reach an agreement with Lagadere for the upcoming editions.
“There will be only two groups, and the teams will play each other home and away. The countries, will be chosen based on their ranking points and by drawing lots. This move is more attractive for commercial value,” added Azzuddin
With Myanmar and Philippines are set to make their debut as co-hosts for this year’s tournament, Azzuddin promised big things coming from the two nations.
“Both countries have fulfilled the necessary requirements, based on our feedback, as early as late 2014. We have had three stages of inspection and infrastructure, and we are happy with the outcome.”
“Myanmar is a football crazy nation, so we are sure there will be an encouraging turnout for game. Philippines meanwhile, are an improving nation with a few dual citizenship players.”
The 11th edition of AFF Suzuki Cup will start this November 19, with defending champions Thailand are the favourites to win the tournament.
With FIFA points in contention, the mindset that the AFF Championship is one tournament which Malaysia shouldn't focus its efforts on should be changed. There's more than just mere regional bragging rights on the cards now