ASEAN C'SHIP Thailand learn cup fate for January (November 28, 2006)



JOHN CREAN

Defending champions Singapore have been drawn to meet 2004 runners-up Indonesia in the group stages of next year's Asean Football Championship.


Co-hosts Singapore, who beat Indonesia 5-2 on aggregate in the two-legged final to lift the trophy for the second time, will also take on Vietnam and Laos in Group B of the biennial tournament, formerly known as the Tiger Cup.


Three-time winners Thailand will have home advantage in their matches against old rivals Malaysia, who beat them on their way to the last four in 2004, Burma and the Philippines in Group A.


Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Vietnam qualified directly for the finals through their Asean ranking while Laos and the Philippines came through a preliminary competition earlier this month which also included Brunei DS, Cambodia and Timor Leste.


The group stages will be held in Singapore and Thailand from January 12-17 with the top two teams from each pool progressing to the home and away semi-finals on January 23-24 and January 27-28.


The final will also be played over two legs on January 31 and February 4 with the winners picking up the first prize of US$100,000.


The draw was made at the Radisson Hotel in Bangkok yesterday.


Worawi Makudi, general secretary of the Football Association of Thailand, said that Thailand would prepare well and field their best possible team to make up for the embarrassment of failing to reach the knockout stages in 2004.


''We cannot underestimate any of the teams in the group,'' he said.


''We will prepare the best team possible to play in this tournament.


''It will be a mixture of young and experienced players but obviously the exact make up is down to the coach.


''We had a very bad experience in 2004 but it was a good lesson for us. We want to bring the trophy back to Thailand.''


Group B matches will be held at the 55,000 capacity National Stadium and the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore with the Group A games being staged at the Suphachalasai Stadium and Army Stadium in Bangkok.