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Vietnam national team to benefit from AFC Champions League postponement

By Hoang Nguyen   March 12, 2021 | 04:00 am PT
Vietnam national team to benefit from AFC Champions League postponement
Vietnam national team (red) will play the remaining World Cup Asian qualifiers in June. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
AFC Champions League group stage matches were moved to June and July, which gives the national team an edge in World Cup qualifiers.

Asian Football Confederation announced the change of schedule for the group stage of AFC Champions League (ACL) on Thursday. The East Asia zone games will now move to the end of June and early July instead of April 21 to May 7.

The reason for AFC’s decision relates to travel restrictions and quarantine challenges in East Asia countries amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. West Asia zone games will take place as normal.

The ACL schedule switch is good news for Vietnam as it would provide the national team an advantage in terms of human resources.

Viettel FC, the only Vietnamese representative in ACL this year, have many key players in the national team like Nguyen Trong Hoang, Que Ngoc Hai, Bui Tien Dung and Nguyen Hoang Duc.

If Viettel were to play the ACL group stage following the old schedule, these players might not have the best form to serve the national team during World Cup Asian qualifiers in June.

With Viettel not playing the ACL in April, the national team would also have more time to train and prepare for important World Cup qualification games.

In the ACL group stage, Viettel were put into group F with South Korean giant and ACL 2020 champion Ulsan Hyundai, Thai League champion BG Pathum and a play-off winner.

Vietnam will have around a month to prepare for the three big games at World Cup qualifiers, with Indonesia on June 7, Malaysia on the 11th and United Arab Emirates on the 15th.

VFF is expected to propose vaccinating the national team before competing in World Cup Asian qualifiers. Though the first batch of vaccines from AstraZeneca was administered to prioritized groups on March 8, footballers were not included.

Vietnam is topping group G with 11 points after five games. The Golden Dragons will enter the final round of World Cup Asian qualifiers for the first time in history if they score seven points from three games.

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