AFC Cup ASEAN Zone called off due to lack of host venue options

The AFC Cup, which was called off in its entirety last year, will not feature any Southeast Asian teams in 2021 after the ASEAN Zone was called off. Asian Football Confederation

The Asian Football Confederation have confirmed that the ASEAN Zone of AFC Cup 2021 has been called off.

Since zonal segregation was introduced to Asian football's second-tier club competition in 2017, the Southeast Asian section has jointly-boasted the most teams every season along with the West Zone with 12 competing clubs each.

But failure to find suitable host venues for the matches in Groups G, H and I have now left the AFC with no other alternative but to cancel this part of the draw.

Singapore were originally set to host Groups H and I with two of their clubs - Lion City Sailors and Geylang International - featuring respectively, but withdrew due to complications and concerns stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Group G, which consisted of clubs from Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and a yet-to-be determined qualifier, also struggled to find a willing and viable host nation.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the AFC cited "challenges imposed by the global pandemic in finding a suitable host to stage the centralised matches" as the reason for the decision.

The 2021 AFC Cup has kicked off elsewhere across the continent with the group stage of the West, Central and East Zone all now concluded, while the South Zone is also encountering similar difficulties in finding a centralised venue but is slated to go ahead at the moment.

Last season's AFC Cup was called off completely with play unable to resume after the tournament was initially halted midway through the group stage.