Bookmark and Share
Buy Tickets

AFF Suzuki Cup a smash with fans

From Presidents to pre-schoolers, football fans throughout the Asean region have been spellbound by the AFF Suzuki Cup over the last four weeks.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his family attended both semi-final matches against the Philippines at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium and he is expected to watch the final on Wednesday.

Philippine President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III hailed the exploits of the Azkals in an official statement after their fairytale run to the last four.

"President Aquino conveys his congratulations to the Philippine team after their victory (over Vietnam) at the AFF Suzuki Cup in Vietnam," said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

That win over the defending champions also caught the attention of Sports Illustrated, with the acclaimed weekly magazine listing the achievement as one of the "top 10 soccer stories of 2010".

"The Asean Football Federation's biennial Suzuki Cup might not be too high up on your list of priorities, but this year's tournament produced arguably the biggest upset in its history: Defending champion and federation powerhouse Vietnam lost 2-0 to the Philippines, ranked 151st in the world and without so much as a point off Vietnam in nearly 20 years," wrote Georgina Turner in her review of the leading football tales of 2010.

Fans flocked to the stadia for the group games in Hanoi and Jakarta and there were capacity crowds for the four semi-final ties and the first leg of the final.

More than 600,000 fans passed through the turnstiles for those matches and another full house is expected on Wednesday at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

The AFF Suzuki Cup has also been a television smash with record ratings for individual matches in some countries.

All 17 matches so far have been shown live on Pan-Asian satellite broadcaster ESPN Star with local television stations clearing their normal schedules to show games after urgings from fans.