Vietnam to return to AFC Champions League after more than 10 years

Wednesday, 2020-09-23 10:01:26
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Vietnamese football will have one representative in the 2021 AFC Champions League.
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NDO – Vietnam will return to the AFC Champions League arena for the first time in over a decade, as the winners of the 2020 V-League are eligible to enter the group stage of the continent’s top-flight club competition in 2021 under the AFC’s new regulations.

Asian football’s governing body recently decided to change the number of participating teams and means of allocating slots for the 2021 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup to suit the tight schedule next year.

The 46 AFC member associations are split into two regions, with West Region consisting of the 25 associations from the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), the Central Asian Football Association (CAFA), and the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF). Meanwhile, the East Region comprises the 21 associations from the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) and the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF).

The associations are ranked based on their clubs’ performance over the last four years in AFC competitions. The top 12 associations in each region are eligible to enter the AFC Champions League. In each region, there are five groups in the group stage, including 16 direct slots, with the four remaining slots filled through qualifying play-offs.

Accordingly, Vietnam’s rank of eighth in the East Region with 28,571 points has secured the country a direct slot to the group stage of next year’s AFC Champions League. Under the AFC’s regulations, this slot will be granted to the 2020 V-League title holders.

This will be the first time after more than a decade that Vietnam returns to the AFC’s top-flight club competition, after the two representatives, Becamex Binh Duong and Nam Dinh FC, in 2008.

In addition, Vietnam will have two direct slots for the 2021 AFC Cup, which are expected to be granted to the champions and runners-up of the 2020 Vietnamese National Cup.

As the newly crowned National Cup champions, Hanoi FC have already been guaranteed a place in the 2021 AFC Cup. If Chu Dinh Nghiem’s side win this year’s V-League, they will compete in the AFC Champions League, while the second- and third-placed teams of the National Cup will represent Vietnam in the AFC Cup.

With these changes, the V-League 2020 title race will become much hotter. As scheduled, the 2021 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup will kick-start the group-stage matches concurrently on February 8, 2021.