Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) will change its format and expand the scale of the regional tournament in the next version in 2018.
The Cup will include 10 of 11 ASEAN nations, with the 10th and 11th-ranked team playing off for a spot in the main draw.
Under the new format, there will be five teams in each group, with all teams playing two games at home and two away.
This is a step away from the current system, where four of the lowest-ranked teams in the region battle to earn one spot in the tournament proper.
Currently, the group stage of the competition is based in two countries, with each hosting a group of four.
No changes have been made to the qualification for the semi-finals and final as the top two teams from each group will progress. Furthermore, the format of a two-leg, home-and-away semi-finals and final will remain.
“Since its debut the cup’s format has been changed twice. The new one is expected to bring more excitement for regional supporters. We hope to have more countries joining hands in organising activities. It means that all ASEAN countries must improve their facilities to meet with the demands,” said Trần Quốc Tuấn, vice president of the Việt Nam Football Federation.
“The increase in the teams will see more games in front of home crowds.
“Players will compete more and that will help them to lift their skills. Fans will witness performance of different teams. All of these will make our regional football festival more competitive and attractive,” said Tuấn, a member of the AFF’s Competitions Committee.
Tuấn also revealed on thanhnien.vn that in 2018 bonus cash for the winners will be increased remarkably compared to the current US$200.000.
Former assistant coach of Thailand Steve Darby supported the changes, saying it would give the lower-ranked teams an opportunity to play against better sides on a more regular basis.
“In every tournament, there will be big boys and minnows, and this year showed that the gap is closing,” he was quoted as saying on tnp.sg.
He added that the smaller teams would get better by playing against other ASEAN countries and not by playing much better sides such as South Korea in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. — VNS