Cooper sees tournament postponement as chance to bolster Azkals
Philippine Azkals coach Scott Cooper believes the postponement of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup from November to next year is the correct decision, even as he intends to maximize the time to plan and build a squad that will finally end the country’s wait for a title in the regional tournament.
Reacting to the AFF’s announcement on the postponement of the competition due to the COVID-19 situation, Cooper said the rescheduling of the tournament was understandable because of the logistical demands of the tournament.
“While it’s really disappointing because the Suzuki Cup is for Southeast Asian pride and it’s a well regarded tournament where everybody competes at the full extent, we also have to consider that the Suzuki Cup is not like other tournaments,” Cooper said.
“There’s a lot of traveling in between the two group stages, semifinals and the finals so there’s a lot of logistics that the AFF has to consider so I actually understand the decision.”
In a statement released last Thursday night, AFF said the health and safety of the players, coaches, partners, fans and public are of the highest priority.
“Since the onset of COVID-19, the AFF has been closely monitoring guidance from the World Health Organization, Health Ministries, government agencies, Fifa and AFC,” AFF president major general Khiev Sameth said.
“This pandemic continues to pose enormous health, societal and economic challenges to us all. AFF’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our football family and mitigating the impact of this pandemic. With the risk of the spread of COVID-19 remaining high, the AFF finds itself in a situation where we cannot proceed safely with the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020.”
Cooper said he intends to use the delay to further strengthen plans to bolster the Philippine squad, half of which plays in the Thai League.
“From the Philippines’ perspective, we have a chance to keep improving like we have been and be even more ready for next year,” Cooper said. “We will take this [postponement] in a positive way given that we can continue to plan, continue to build and see what we can do with players who will be involved going forward.”
“This postponement will benefit us.”