The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have confirmed on Monday that two of the three ASEAN Zone groups in the 2021 AFC Cup will have their matches being played out in Singapore. The groups in question are Groups H and I, which contain Singaporean teams Lion City Sailors and Geylang International respectively.
In the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all AFC Cup group stage matches will be played on a single round-robin basis in centralized venues. After looking through all the hosting applications, the AFC have came to a decision and announced the hosts for this year’s AFC Cup group stages on Monday.
Groups A and B, both comprising the West Asia Zone, will be hosted by Al-Hidd of Bahrain and Al-Salt of Jordan respectively. Jordan also received the honor of hosting Group C, with Al-Faisaly hosting their opponents within the group.
South Asia-based Group D will be hosted by Maziya S&RC of the Maldives, while Central Asian-based Groups E and F will be played in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan respectively, with Dordoi Bishkek and Khujand acting as hosts. Group J, the only East Asia-based group in the AFC Cup, will be co-hosted by Hong Kong clubs Eastern AA and Lee Man FC.
With a good record in handling the pandemic so far, Singapore emerges out as the ideal candidate to host AFC Cup games with both Lion City Sailors and Geylang willing to host their opponents in the island state. Lion City Sailors will host Kedah Darul Aman of Malaysia, Sai Gon FC of Vietnam, and the qualifying play-off winner between Cambodia’s Visakha FC, East Timor’s Lalenok United, and Indonesia’s Persipura Jayapura in Group H, while Geylang will welcome Kaya FC-Iloilo of the Philippines, either Shan United or Ayeyawady United of Myanmar, and Terengganu FC of Malaysia in Group I.
The hosts for Group G, contested between Hanoi FC of Vietnam, Bali United of Indonesia, Boeung Ket FC of Cambodia, and the qualifying play-off winner between Brunei Darussalam’s Kasuka FC, Laos’ FC Chanthabouly (formerly Lao Toyota), and Myanmar’s Hanthawady United, will be decided on a later date.
Singapore’s appointment as hosts for this year’s AFC Cup ASEAN Zone group stage matches meant that Sai Gon, who had previously voiced their intention to host Group H games at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, had to accept the disappointing fact that their hosting application was turned down.
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) general secretary Yazeen Buhari thanked the AFC for giving Singapore the honor of hosting this year’s AFC Cup group stage games in a statement, with Buhari vowing to discuss relevant hosting matters in regards of ensuring a safe AFC Cup during the ongoing pandemic with the relevant authorities in Singapore.
“The FAS prioritizes the health and safety of the players and officials and we will spare no effort in ensuring that our local community remains safe,” said Buhari as quoted from The Straits Times.
Both Lion City Sailors and Geylang voiced their excitement in hosting the upcoming AFC Cup games, stating their willingness to welcome their opponents within the island state and voicing their optimism that they are able to hold matches without any issue.