The Asian Football Federation (AFC) confirmed the departure of North Korea from the qualifiers Sunday due to Covid-19 worries.
The AFC said it would refer the decision on how the withdrawal affects Group H standings and other groups to world governing body FIFA.
There are two scenarios for the qualifiers after North Korea dropped out. The first is FIFA could cancel all results of matches that involved North Korea, including five played and three unplayed games. This means the results against last-placed teams would also be canceled for other groups.
If that happens, in group G where Vietnam are playing, previous and upcoming matches of bottom team Indonesia would not be counted and the other teams in the group will be deducted six points. Vietnam would face huge pressure in the last two games with Malaysia and United Arab Amirates (UAE) in June.
The second senario is to set all North Korea’s results in their remaining matches to 0-3 losses. This means the teams who have not played North Korea could benefit greatly since they would be handed a 3-0 win.
The four best runners-up of this qualification round would advance to the next stage, with the runner-up of group H benefits more than others.
Vietnam will only be affected by this disadvantage if they become the runner-up of group G. No matter what the scenario is, Vietnam need only win two important games against direct competitors Malaysia and UAE to secure a solid spot in the next round.
The Golden Dragons are set to play all three games in Dubai, UAE. The team will face Indonesia on June 7, Malaysia on the 11th and UAE on the 15th. They are topping group G with 11 points, followed by Malaysia (9 points), Thailand (8 points) and UAE (6 points). UAE are playing one game less than others, while Indonesia with zero points, have been eliminated.
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