Vietnam fails to qualify as host for World Cup qualifiers

By Lam Thoa   February 19, 2021 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnam fails to qualify as host for World Cup qualifiers
Vietnam (in red) plays Thailand in a World Cup Asian qualification game on November 19, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Vietnam was willing to host the remaining World Cup qualifier matches, but the country couldn’t meet criteria set by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The criteria requires nations wishing to host group matches of World Cup 2022 Asian qualifiers to have at least five five-star hotels as accommodations for the teams, five high-quality training grounds and two stadiums that meet international standards.

At the moment, Vietnam has just one international standard stadium, the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi. Other stadiums in the country lack different factors in meeting the standard.

The AFC also requires teams to be exempted from quarantine, only needing to take Covid-19 tests. But at the moment, Vietnam doesn’t have a special policy that allows this. Under current regulations, anyone who enters the country will have to stay in quarantine for at least 14 days.

Previously, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia had informed the AFC that due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, they could not host their group G home games. The AFC has therefore decided that the teams will play the remaining matches at a centralized venue in June. The name of the host nation for the remaining group G matches will be announced March 15.

Despite not being able to host their home games, Vietnam continues to have an edge in group G. One major advantage will be playing Malaysia in a centralized venue instead of Bukit Jalil, the latter’s home stadium. Malaysia is a direct competitor in this group, only two points behind Vietnam.

Vietnam is currently on the top of group G with 11 points. They will need to get at least seven points from their last three games to earn a spot in the final qualification round for the 2022 World Cup.

According to the updated schedule, they will play Malaysia on June 7, Indonesia on June 11 and UAE on June 15.

Vietnam coach Park Hang-seo has returned to the country from South Korea and completed 14 days of quarantine. He is preparing a plan for the World Cup qualifiers with the players training in May, when the V. League is on a mid-season break.

"Hopefully, the team and I will get to be busy this year. For Vietnamese football, the order of priorities this year will be World Cup qualifiers, SEA Games and the AFF Cup. In October, we will also play the qualifiers for the AFC U23 Championship. It’s not easy to meet the expectations of football fans in Vietnam, but we will find a way to distribute resources and time to achieve our targets in all four tournaments," Park told the South Korean media.

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