V.League champions Hanoi FC created history in AFC Cup 2019 by reaching the Inter-Zone Play-Off Final, but the Vietnamese club could find themselves kicked out of next season’s tournament.
Hanoi had bowed out from this season’s AFC Cup 2019 on away goals last week after holding DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC to a 2-2 draw over two legs — just days after they had booked a place in the 2020 season of AFC Cup by winning the Vietnamese domestic title.
However, their participation in AFC Cup 2020 is in doubt now as they could come short of meeting Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) club licensing regulations that is required to take part in their continental club competitions — the AFC Cup and the AFC Champions League.
AFC Cup 2019: Hanoi FC 2-1 4.25 SC (Papa Ibou Kebe 28′)
AFC’s AFC Cup Club Licensing regulations clearly state under ‘Sporting Criteria’ that the club applying for the license “must have at least two youth teams within the age range of U15 and U18” in order to be eligible to acquire the license.
It further states that these “youth teams shall participate in all the relevant youth competition(s) organised by the Licensor [Vietnam Football Federation, in this case] and such other bodies at the national, regional or local level. The youth team should also participate in any youth development activities organised by the Licensor.”
And this is where Chu Dinh Nghiem’s Hanoi FC could lose their right to participate in the AFC Champions League 2020 preliminary round 2 and AFC Cup 2020.
According to reports, it was made clear during a meeting for Vietnamese clubs attending next season’s Asian competitions that Hanoi will not be eligible to represent Vietnam in any continental championship as their U-15 side did not take part in the 2019 edition of the National U-15 Tournament.
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In 2018, Hanoi could not progress from the qualifying rounds of Vietnam’s national U-15 tournament while in 2017, they were one of the eight sides to reach the final rounds of the competition.
With Hanoi’s absence, it will be V.League 2019 runners-up Ho Chi Minh City that take their spot in the AFC club competitions.
This is the second time in three years that a V.League champion is deemed ineligible for continental tournaments. Previously, 2017 V.League champions QNK Quang Nam FC were adjudged not eligible making way for that season’s runners-up FLC Thanh Hoa FC.