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Iraq cancel friendly with Vietnam for fear of novel coronavirus

Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 18:00 GMT+7
Iraq cancel friendly with Vietnam for fear of novel coronavirus
Vietnam's captain Que Ngoc Hai (L) challenges a Malaysian player during a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Hanoi, October 10, 2019. Photo: Nguyen Khoi / Tuoi Tre

Iraq have called off a planned friendly match with Vietnam over the ongoing new coronavirus epidemic in the Southeast Asian country, according to the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF).

The Iraq Football Association (IFA) had sent a document announcing their cancelation of the game, VFF general secretary Le Hoai Anh said on Tuesday.

The two national football teams were scheduled to play the friendly at Go Dau Stadium in Thu Dau Mot City, Binh Duong Province, just outside Ho Chi Minh City, on March 26.

The canceled clash was meant to prepare Vietnam for an important game against hosts Malaysia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on March 31.

There have been reports that the friendly had been scrapped due to novel coronavirus fears.

But the reports had not been confirmed until Tuesday morning, when Anh acknowledged receiving the document from the Iraqi side.

This would be a disruption to Vietnam’s plan to train for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where they are leading Group G with 11 points from five matches, followed by Malaysia on nine, Thailand on eight, and the UAE – who have played four games – on six points.  

Vietnam’s head coach Park Hang Seo and his men will move to Ho Chi Minh City on March 21 and likely play a Vietnamese league club, as it would be hard to find a national team to replace the Iraqis amid the virus outbreak.

The novel coronavirus pandemic’s total death toll in China has climbed to 1,868, Reuters quoted the Chinese National Health Commission as saying.

There were 1,886 new confirmed infections, for a total of 72,436, according to the same source.

Vietnam has confirmed 16 infection cases so far, eleven of them having been discharged clear of the virus from the hospital.

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