PETALING JAYA: Kedah and Terengganu’s hopes of playing in the AFC Cup are in jeopardy after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) revealed that the tournament may be cancelled if they can’t find the centralised hosts for the group stage.
On May 27, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that the erratic Covid-19 situation has made inbound travel challenging for the participating teams. In the interest of all the players, the officials and the local community, they decided not to host the AFC Cup 2021 group-stage matches.
In response, the AFC said in a statement: “It was decided that the competition will continue with the remaining matches and groups as much as possible while at the same time the matches across all stages which cannot be played due to matters arising from the Covid-19 pandemic will be cancelled and that such cancellations will be recognised as an event of Force Majeure.”
Terengganu coach Nafuzi Zain said the news is a disappointment for him, the management, players and fans as they have been preparing well for the AFC Cup.
“Personally, I am disappointed because this would have been my first year playing at the continental stage.
“It is not easy to get such an opportunity but we have to accept whatever decision that is made,” said Nafuzi.
“We understand the situation because it is tough to host the tournament in this climate. Even Malaysia can’t host it because of the pandemic situation here. It is going to be impossible to get a host in the next few days.”
In the AFC Cup, Terengganu are in Group I with Singapore’s Geylang International and Filipino side Kaya-Iloilo. Another spot will go to either a Cambodian or Timor Leste club.
Another Malaysian club Kedah were grouped with Indonesian club Persipura Jayapura, Singaporean side Lion City Sailors and Vietnamese team Saigon in Group H.
“The boys were gutted when Singapore announced they would not host the tournament. After that, they were prepared for any eventuality.
“I pity them because they left their loved ones to prepare for the tournament via the camp-based training, You have to accept it. We will fight to qualify for the same tournament next year,” said Nafuzi.