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Football will return despite pandemic

The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) Vice President Cao Van Chong insists national football competitions will soon resume despite the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.

Players compete in the match between Sai Gon FC (in green) and Song Lam Nghe An in the third round match of the V.League 1 tournament on January 30. Although the COVID-19 forced a delay of the tournament one official has promised football would soon return. Photo courtesy of VPF

Vietnam football was the highlight in 2020 with stadium opened for fans and tournaments ended successfully while elsewhere in the world games were cancelled or played at empty stadiums.

The national 2021 season started with two rounds and one game of the third round before it was delayed when COVID-19 spread in the community in January.

All competitions of the national teams and clubs such as the 2022 World Cup qualifier, AFF Cup and the AFC tournaments in 2021 were affected.

But Chong said the national football governing body had been working tirelessly to get matches restarted.

“VFF’s departments have worked closely with each other and coaching boards of all teams to build up schedule for 2021,” he said.

“We also discussed with the Vietnam Professional Football Company (VPF) to arrange a timetable for the national championships to make sure that these events would be organised well in time and players have time to play for the national teams,” said Chong.

“You can see that we have made good preparation so far. Both national squads and the U22s had intensive training camps and friendly matches where we checked their performance.

“Meanwhile the women’s team also gathered last month to train for the coming Southeast Asian championship, SEA Games and especially the Asian championship when they vie for the 2023 World Cup slot.”

Regarding the V.League 1 Chong said the first two rounds were a success when clubs showed their good preparation for the new season although they faced big difficulties due to the COVID-19.

“They prepared for their form and physique and also seriously followed regulations of COVID-10 protection and control. It could be seen through the first matches of the season,” he said.

According to Chong, VFF thought about every situation which can happen due to COVID-19.

He added: “The 2021 would follow steps that we did well in the 2020 season like format of the tournament, security activities and COVID-19 rules. This year we will work more closely with all partners and localities to ensure the quality and competitiveness.

“I believe that in case of unexpected situations, we would have enough time to adjust everything. But despite challenges I think the 2021 would happen successfully.”

But the VFF Vice President said that problems including poor quality of refereeing have been revealed from the early rounds.

Chong said: “Training courses for referees were held weeks ahead of the tournaments. They were checked of fitness and updated the latest regulations and laws.

“However, refereeing is always a difficult job in all tournaments and we are trying to filter the best ones together with open training classes to lure more good ones. Our referees also promise to try their best to meet people’s demands.” VNS

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