Vietnam's quarantine requirements prevent Saigon FC from hosting AFC Cup

By Duc Dong   March 2, 2021 | 01:00 am PT
Vietnam's quarantine requirements prevent Saigon FC from hosting AFC Cup
Saigon FC (L) play Ha Tinh on their home ground Thong Nhat Stadium in HCMC in a V. League match, October 9, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Professional Football JSC.
The Covid-19 protocol in Vietnam that requires two weeks’ quarantine for visitors means Saigon FC cannot host the AFC Cup group H matches.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) stipulates that players cannot be quarantined for more than four days when they visit a country for a match, but in Vietnam the requirement is 14 days.

Saigon had expressed a desire to play host, but that honors falls on Singaporean club Lion City Sailors, who have met all the AFC’s requirements.

Besides Saigon and Lion City Sailors, Group H also consists of Malaysian club Kedah and a qualifier.

The games will be played from June 22 to 28.

This is Saigon’s maiden appearance in the event -- they qualified by finishing third in the V. League last year -- but, with weaker opponents in the group, are expected to sail through to the next round.

The host of group G, in which Hanoi FC take on Indonesia’s Bali United, Cambodia's Boeung Ket and the play-off winner, has yet to be decided.

This is Hanoi’s fifth appearance in the AFC Cup. They finished second in the V. League and won the National Cup last year.

Vietnam’s representative in the top-flight AFC Champions League, Viettel FC, will play their group matches in Bangkok from April 21 to May 7.

This year, the AFC Cup group stage has been expanded by three teams to 39 with a new Central Asia Zone group. The first and second placed teams in each group will advance to the next round.

The champions will be awarded a spot in the preliminary stage of 2022 AFC Champions League.

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