The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) reported the first five COVID-19 cases among the players and one doctor on Tuesday, before announcing more infections the next day.

The women’s team were supposed to travel from Spain, where they had spent about three weeks training and playing three friendly matches in preparation for the continental tourney, to India on Friday.

In light of the infections, the players who have not been infected and are qualified for entering India will depart for the South Asian country as planned, VFF general secretary Le Hoai Anh told reporters on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the sick players will continue their quarantine in Spain until recovering from the disease, before boarding another flight to India, Anh added.

While the health of the Vietnamese team members who tested positive for COVID-19 has been stable, with no abnormalities, according to the VFF, the medical trouble is forecast to heavily affect the competency of the squad at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

As Vietnam will take on South Korea in their Group C opening match on January 21, Anh said sending reinforcements from Vietnam to India is not a timely solution, regarding the limited number of flights between the two countries due to the pandemic.

The Vietnamese national women’s football team trains in Spain for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Photo: Vietnam Football Federation

The Vietnamese national women’s football team train in Spain for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Photo: Vietnam Football Federation

The AFC Women’s Asian Cup is a quadrennial competition in women’s football for national teams which belong to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), with this year’s edition scheduled to take place in India from January 20 to February 6.

The Vietnamese women’s team, who are placed in Group C at this year’s championship, alongside Japan, South Korea, and Myanmar, left their home country for Spain on December 27, 2021.

Group A includes India, China, Chinese Taipei, and Iran while Group B includes Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, and Indonesia.

After the group stage, the top eight squads will advance to the quarterfinals.

The tourney will also serve as the final stage of the Asian qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with the top five teams advancing directly while the next two will book places in the inter-confederation play-offs.

A World Cup spot is the challenging target Vietnam’s head coach Mai Duc Chung has set for his players as they will compete in a considerably tough group with strong opponents like Japan and South Korea.

That goal now seems more onerous.

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