Footballers set for busy winter, if COVID-19 stamped out

Wednesday, 2020-03-18 16:50:51
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The national men's football team will hope to defend their AFF Suzuki Cup trophy this winter (Photo: NDO/Tran Hai)
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NDO/VNA – Following the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF)’s announcement that the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 schedule will remain unchanged, the national football team seem to have a busy winter after the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the football schedule.

Vietnam will have to play 9-11 matches in both World Cup qualifiers and the AFF Suzuki Cup from October to December.

The AFF event's final round will run from November 23 to December 31, before which the national team will play Malaysia in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in October.

The match in Kuala Lumpur was originally scheduled for March 31 but was postponed by the AFC to October 13 due to the spread of COVID-19.

“The AFF announced the AFF Cup 2020 will start in October but that is the event’s preliminary round. Vietnam are the defending champions so we don’t have to play in this round. In October, Vietnam will only play in the 2022 World Cup qualifier as scheduled,” said VFF General Secretary Le Hoai Anh.

“FIFA and the AFC moved the World Cup qualifiers’ competition schedule on FIFA days in October and November, so the matches of Vietnam against Indonesia on November 12 and UAE on November 17 won’t affect the schedule of the AFF Cup’s group round which begins on November 23.

"However, the competition density for Vietnam in the last three months of the year will be very thick with three World Cup qualifiers matches and at least 6-8 matches of the AFF Cup.”

According to the VFF, the federation and head coach Park Hang-seo will work closely together to get the side physically and mentally prepared for the games.

To help prepare for the matches, the VFF plans to invite foreign teams to play friendlies with Vietnam in June.

The Vietnamese team will convene in late May or early June and then again at the end of September for the matches.

Vietnam aim to defend their AFF Cup title which they gained after beating Malaysia 3-2 over a two-legged final in December 2018.

The 2020 edition will follow the same format as of 2018 with the top 10 teams from ASEAN split into two groups and facing each other on a home-and-away basis.