Vietnam disadvantaged by AFF Cup, World Cup qualifiers schedule clash

By Hoang Nguyen   March 17, 2020 | 06:59 pm PT
Vietnam disadvantaged by AFF Cup, World Cup qualifiers schedule clash
Vietnam national team players (red) during the AFF Cup final with Malaysia on December 15, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Vietnam will be among several teams to be affected by scheduling this year with the AFF Cup clashing with the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

According to the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) has decided to organize the 2020 AFF Cup qualifiers in October and the finals from November 23 to December 31.

Meanwhile, FIFA and the AFC recently decided to postpone the World Cup qualifiers in Asia due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the highly anticipated match between Vietnam and Malaysia to October 13 and two other games against Indonesia and UAE to November 12 and 17.

For Vietnamese coach Park Hang-seo, these were the two goals the VFF set when renewing his contract: successfully defending the AFF Cup title and advancing to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.

With the two now to be played in the same month, there will hardly be time for preparation and Park will feel the pressure. After Vietnam finish their last World Cup qualifier on November 17, they will have less than a week to prepare for the AFF Cup.

The decision has already sparked a controversy. The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) said it plans to send the U23 team to the AFF Cup because the first priority is the World Cup.

The 2018 tournament saw a record number of 752,945 spectators attending as each team played two games at home and two away in the new group format. Vietnam stormed to victory in the tournament after beating Malaysia 3-2 in the final. It was their second AFF Cup title and the first in a decade.

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