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Vietnam suspends national team call-up as World Cup Asian qualifiers delayed again

Thursday, August 13, 2020, 08:22 GMT+7
Vietnam suspends national team call-up as World Cup Asian qualifiers delayed again
Vietnamese and Malaysian players in action at an Asian qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2019. Photo: N. K. / Tuoi Tre

The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) has suspended its national team’s upcoming call-up right after qualifying matches in Asia for the 2022 FIFA World Cup were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic for the second time.

At around 12:00 pm on Wednesday, the VFF announced its plan for the national team’s call-up in Hanoi from August 16 to 28, with a list of 36 players chosen by head coach Park Hang Seo, in preparation for the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

But the Vietnamese football governing body had to call off the plan just over one hour later, after FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said in a statement on the same day that the World Cup Asian qualifiers will be rescheduled to 2021.

The second round of Asian qualifiers was originally scheduled to take place during the international windows in October and November but they would not go ahead due to the “COVID-19 situation in many countries.”

It marks the second time the qualifiers, which also serve as the road to the 2023 Asian Cup in China, have been pushed back as matches in March and June were also postponed due to the pandemic. 

“With the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants, FIFA and the AFC will continue to work together to closely monitor the situation in the region and to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches,” the statement said.

“Further details on the new dates for the next round of qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup 2023 will be announced in due course.”

The Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are in its second round, played by 40 teams drawn into eight groups of five to play home-and-away round-robin matches from September 5, 2019.

Vietnam are leading Group G with 11 points from five matches, followed by Malaysia on nine, Thailand on eight, the UAE — who are one game behind — on six points.

Indonesia are in the bottom of the group with zero points after five matches and stand no chance of advancing to the next qualifying round.

On June 5, the AFC announced the resumption of the remaining matches of Round 2.

According to the AFC’s schedule, which has now been scrapped, Vietnam were due to play Malaysia on October 13 and already-eliminated Indonesia on November 12 before playing guests in the UAE on November 17.

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