Football Alive

ASEAN’s rise and Australia’s fall: Time to join the Suzuki Cup

When Australia joined the AFC I was genuinely excited about the Suzuki Cup which is played every 2 years by the ASEAN teams from the AFC.

Australia snubbed joining in full as the teams were seen as beneath Australia’s level and we sought harder games in North Asia.

That tournament was a disaster, we had players like Josh Kennedy withheld by their Japanese teams and we were roundly beaten with a largely A-League select.

Today, we have very few players in Europe and as our Under 23 defeat to Vietnam has shown we are no longer the force we once were.

Vietnamese fans clog the streets in joy.

Vietnam is in raptures at the moment, the South East Asian nation has just booked a Confederation final against the Uzbeks.

Vietnam along with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are very well run footballing nations, their infrastructure is top notch and their player development models are producing rapid results.

There are still easy beats in the group but then there always are, this shouldn’t be the focus, the focus should be not just beating the better nations but learning from them.

Thailand has an amazing Ultras culture that seems to have blossomed overnight, the fans are not encumbered by fighting with their federation and add colour and music to the game day experience.

With our crowds falling like a stone, we could learn from the marketing and also the general amiable relations between fans and administrators.

The development program of ASEAN nations, in general, is to be marveled at.

They bring in well-credentialed coaches from across the globe, since they play regularly against each other they ensure that progress can be monitored and measured.

If Australia was to join ASEAN in earnest and play in the Suzuki Cup alongside the youth tournaments we would see valuable games added to the fixture list, itself as barren as the Socceroos job.

The home and away format would guarantee home matches and away days via cheap airlines for Aussie fans.

Our players are playing far too little football, our juniors have a ridiculous 14 game season, a third of what it should be.

Our NPL and A-League seasons are not running concurrently leading to anomalies in the FFA Cup where teams are playing months after their season has finished.

The A-League season itself is repetitive, unglamorous and has an offseason nearly as long as the regular.

The national team plays infrequently and rarely at home and only in two competitive competitions every 4 years.

Australia needs more football, we need more competitive games and must also come to understand that the national curriculum is a failure, we must look at regional success stories and join the conversation.

The time of looking down on our neighbours is over, we are falling behind them almost as quick as they are rising.

The Suzuki Cup is being played in November and December this year, we are the only ASEAN nation not participating.

But more than anything we are those who need these games the most.

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