The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s decision to cancel this year's continental futsal championship opens the door for Vietnam to qualify for their second World Cup.
Futsal players in a training preparing for the Asian championship before it was cancelled last February. Photo courtesy of VFF
The AFC on Monday announced the cancellation of several tournaments due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The confederation said it took into consideration uncertainty and risks in view of the current pandemic, and the decision was to ensure the safety and health of Asia’s youth players.
The tournament was first scheduled for Turkmenistan between February 26 and March 8, 2020. But it was postponed to this March in Kuwait. However, due to the concerns about the current coronavirus situation, it has been officially cancelled.
Other tournaments affected are the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup in Thailand, the AFC U16 Championship in Bahrain 2020 and the AFC U19 Championship in Uzbekistan.
“We are grateful for the support of the hosts for these competitions who agreed with the AFC the need to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders during this time of uncertainty and taking into consideration the risks of the current pandemic,” AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John was quoted as saying on the-afc.com.
The top five teams in the futsal tournament were set to represent Asia at the World Cup in Lithuania between September 12 and October 3.
Currently, 15 teams from South America, Africa and Europe and the hosts have secured their berths. Nine remaining are for CONCACAF (four) and Asia (five).
As the Asian championship is eliminated, the AFC will have to choose their representatives.
“The decision belongs to the AFC’s Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee. Currently, there are different ideas of how to choose the best five. One is to base on the teams’ current ranking and another is results of teams in the last three Asian championships,” said Tran Quoc Tuan, AFC’s chairman of Competition Committee.
Vietnam will be out of the event if rankings are used as they sit No 9 in the world in the December 2020 ranking.
But if the second option is approved, Vietnam will definitely receive a slot.
The team finished in the top eight in the 2014 and 2018 tournament and the top three in the 2016 edition.
Tran Anh Tu, member of the AFC’s Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee, said: “It is great if Vietnam win a chance to go to the World Cup. But the AFC has not made their final announcement yet. We will have to wait and train hard to prepare for the good news”.
Five years ago, Vietnam shocked the futsal world by defeating title favourites Japan in the Asian championship’s semi-finals to earn a berth at the 2016 Futsal World Cup in Colombia. VNS
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