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Postponement of AFC U23 final looms as snowfall returns to ​Changzhou

Saturday, January 27, 2018, 11:00 GMT+7

Heavy snowfall returned early on Saturday in the Chinese city of Changzhou, renewing concerns that the 2018 AFC U23 Championship final, where Vietnam and Uzebekistan will both vie for their first title, could be postponed in the last minute.

The final clash of the championship is scheduled for 3:00 pm (Vietnam time), and has been under threat of being called off due to extreme weather conditions since Thursday, when temperatures in Changzhou dropped to below three degrees Celsius, bringing snow and biting winds.

Hope was restored when snowplows on Friday managed to clear snow from the pitch until a fresh snowfall hit Changzhou Olympic Sports Center at around 8:00 am on Saturday, seven hours before the final game kick-starts, a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalist reported from the field.

The competition organizers said the final match will take place as scheduled but it is understood that it could be postponed in the last minute if the snow storm gets worse.

The organizers sent the two finalists a memo on Saturday morning, suggesting that they recommending local supporters to keep their tickets just in case the game is really called off.

A number of Vietnamese supporters have applied for a Chinese visa via a fast-track procedure to cheer for their beloved team in Changzhou, shortly after the Golden Stars secured the historic final ticket after edging out Qatar 4-3 on penalty shootout following a tense 2-2 draw on Tuesday.

Fans at home are also ready to watch the game, at all venues possible, from home and coffee shops to public places.

Vietnam have been wowing fans at home and across the continent with its fairytale run in the AFC U23 Championship, where giants such as Australia, Japan, China and South Korea were all eliminated.

The Golden Stars beat Australia 1-0 in the group stage before upsetting Iraq and Qatar to qualify for the final game with Uzbekistan, which also edged out Japan, China, and South Korea on their path to the competition’s very last game.

A snowplow clears the stadium at Changzhou Olympic Sports Center in Changzhou, China, January 25, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A snowplow clears the stadium at Changzhou Olympic Sports Center in Changzhou, China, January 25, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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