REUTERS - Australia will continue to compete in future editions of the East Asian Cup despite their impending membership of Southeast Asia’s ASEAN Football Federation (AFF), officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
The Socceroos will have their AFF invite affiliation upgraded at the federation’s Extraordinary Congress in August but have no plans to compete in its biennial Suzuki Cup against teams more than 100 places below them in the FIFA rankings.
“Australia was invited to participate in this year’s EAFF Cup. If invited again we will continue to accept and participate in this competition,” a Football Federation of Australia spokesman said.
“At this point we would not seek to enter senior national teams into the Suzuki Cup, however, Australia is committed to entering underage and Futsal teams into AFF competitions.”
Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006 after moving from the less competitive Oceania Federation where they routinely racked up double-digit victories over largely amateur sides in the Pacific Islands.
The Socceroos, ranked 39th by world governing body FIFA, were then made invite members of the AFF and have routinely competed in youth competitions in the 11 nation federation.
Last week at an AFF meeting in Malaysia they had their entry ‘unanimously supported’ by members, the spokesman said.
Australia will make their debut in the EAFF Cup in July after coming through qualifiers against North Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Guam undefeated with a largely youthful side in December.
The four team finals also feature Japan, China and hosts South Korea.
Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore