| PETALING JAYA (4 Oct 2008) – It will be another busy month for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) when the AFF Under-19 Championship kicks off tomorrow in Bangkok, Thailand to be followed by the AFF Women’s Championship three days later in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The AFF U19 Championship is an important tournament for the AFF even though Thailand will be the only team from the Asean region who will be playing in the four-team meet.
As the only team to qualify for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship in Saudi Arabia at the end of October, Thailand will be out to prove their mettle against the likes of Group D opponent Australia, Korea Republic (Group B) and China (Group C).
And while there were rumours that the Thai team will play in this meet with the absence of one or two regulars due to their involvement in the last two matches of the Thailand Premier League 2008, still as hosts the team will not be short of talent or firepower.
This U19 tournament has now been moved to the much grander surroundings of the Rajamangala Stadium from the Suphachalasai Stadium which is undergoing renovation.
The AFF Women’s Championship will see another important development of the women’s game in the Asean region with the participation of Australia for the meet scheduled for 8-21 Oct.
The Aussies will be taking part in this meet for the first time ever as hosts Vietnam look to build on their fine performance at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup earlier this year and win the overall crown on home soil.
Thailand, who were the losing finalists last year, are undergoing some changes which they hope will bring a different dimension to their game while defending champions Myanmar will be hard-pressed to retain their crown against more formidable opponents.
At the same time, there will also be a FIFA-organised Women’s Football Seminar in Ho Chi Minh City towards the latter end of October with the participants from mostly Asean countries as well as several invited guests from other parts of the world.
The hope is that through this regular interchange, the women’s game can develop further in the region.
Not to mention too, the middle of October will see the kick-off the AFF Suzuki Cup 2008 qualifying round with five teams battling it out for the only two available slots in the December meet.
The five teams concerned – hosts Cambodia, the Philippines, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste – have been hard at work in these few months and will be anxious to see it to fruitition.