Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AFC is confident 2007 Asian Cup will run smoothly

Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed bin Hammam is confident the 2007 Asian Cup, co-hosted by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam will prove a success. “Of course a single host is always easier to manage but we feel that we are making good progress with the logistics for the coming event,” he told AFP, singling out Indonesia and Vietnam for particular praise. “As far as Indonesia and Vietnam are concerned, we are very satisfied. The two organising committees have, to date, fulfilled their commitments towards the AFC,” he said. “As far as Malaysia is concerned, we are happy about the preparation, but the awareness of the competition is not yet here at the street level. But in the last week we have had very positive meetings with the Ministry of Tourism and other government authorities to promote Asian Cup as part of ‘Visit Malaysia 2007’."

The ousting of Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra in a military-led coup in September and concern over the readiness of Bangkok’s stadium, led to jitters about whether the country would be fit to co-host the event. But AFC Secretary General Peter Velappan travelled to Bangkok last month to meet key officials, including new Sport and Tourism Minister Suvit Yodmanee, and came away with assurances that everything was on track. “Of course Thailand has been affected by the change in government,” said bin Hammam. “But they have met the initial deadline of 15 November with a renewed government guarantee, and we have assurances that in January 2007, all promises will be delivered in terms of the facilities improvements. So yes, I am confident that everything will run smoothly and that we will be proud of the competition.”

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