Football Tribe SEA Editor
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have officially appointed Malaysia and Vietnam to host the remaining group stage matches of this year’s AFC Champions League and AFC Cup in the East Asia and ASEAN Zones respectively. Stadiums in Malaysia will play host to the remaining matches of the AFC Champions League’s Groups G and H, while Vietnam will host the remaining matches of Groups F and G.
No word were given on who will host the AFC Champions League’s Group F and the AFC Cup’s Group H.
Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim are members of Group G of this year’s AFC Champions League, meaning that their brand new Sultan Ibrahim Stadium is most likely going to get the nod to host that group’s matches. Having hosted JDT’s continental matches the previous year, the old Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium (better known as Larkin Stadium) is also a likely candidate to be the group’s alternate venue.
Malaysia’s national stadium, the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, is also a likely candidate due to its close proximity from the AFC headquarters. Having hosted AFC Champions League qualifiers in the past two years, Kedah FA’s Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Setar and Perak FA’s Perak Stadium in Ipoh are also likely to be chosen. Negeri Sembilan FA’s Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Seremban is also a likely candidate having hosted matches of the Syria national team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification stage, a distinction shared with Melaka United’s Hang Jebat Stadium, another likely candidate. Kuala Lumpur FA’s KLFA Stadium in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur has hosted last year’s AFC Cup final and could be likely to get the nod as well, while the newly renovated Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Terengganu could become a surprise candidate.
Malaysia must consider an adequate amount of stadiums to be used in this year’s AFC Champions League, as they are not only to host Groups G and H, but also the knockout matches of the East Asia Zone, which includes the round of 16, quarterfinals, and semifinals.
Meanwhile, the AFC have appointed the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City and Quang Ninh Province’s Cam Pha Stadium to host the remaining matches of Groups F and G of this year’s AFC Cup. Last year’s V.League 1 runners-up Ho Chi Minh City FC are members of Group F alongside Singapore’s Hougang United, Myanmar’s Yangon United, and Lao Toyota of Laos, while Than Quang Ninh are in Group G with Filipino giants United City FC (formerly Ceres-Negros), Indonesian champions Bali United, and Cambodian champions Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng.
Both the hosts of Group H and the ASEAN knockout stage will be announced by the AFC in due time.
Previously, the AFC has appointed Qatar to host this year’s AFC Champions League’s group stage matches for the West Asia Zone as well as the region’s knockout stages, while Maldives were given the honor of hosting the South Asia Zone group stage matches of this year’s AFC Cup. The final of this year’s AFC Champions League is also confirmed to be played in West Asia.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted both the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup severely this year, with both competitions being suspended since March, with the AFC planning for a mid-September return for both competitions in order for their final matches to be played by December.