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Discussion in 'AFC: Tournaments' started by Suren01, Jul 17, 2019.
Group A: China, Syria, Philippines, Maldives, Guam.
When I mentioned about wanting to face new opposition, I didn't have Guam in mind. Travelling between both countries is going to be a total nightmare!
I have a feeling that China are going to struggle in all the away matches. Syria are already used to playing all their games away from home so they won't care, which is why I think they will pip the Chinese to top spot.
I really want to see how China are going to fare in Male', especially after the fiasco in the last qualifiers, and also because I'm certain that the allocation for away tickets will be sold out. It's also going to be first ever trips to Male' for Syria and Guam, which will be interesting. We will also be welcoming the Philippines back. The last two encounters against them at home turned out to be classics, and like the Chinese fans, we can expect the Filipinos to turn out in numbers.
Apparently entering Guam is a bit of a pain. In addition to the long traveling distances, a valid US visa is required, meaning each member of the squad and coaching staff have to sit through an interview.
Maldives' initial plans for a training camp and friendly match in Malaysia had to be scuppered, because the process to obtain the visa will take "from several days to a few weeks", so they are now camping instead in Sri Lanka, where the team will spend much of their time in the US Embassy.
I seem to recall Iran filing a complaint against Guam FA after six of their players were refused entry in the last edition. Hopefully it will not come to that this time.
Guangzhou Evergrande's Brazilian-born striker Elkeson has been included in the preliminary Chinese squad.
He is set to become the first player of non-Chinese heritage to represent China.
Maldives fans have been left disappointed again after FAM announced that only 3,400 tickets will be put on sale for their match against China on the 10th of this month.
Two of the stands at the National Stadium have been closed for much of the year for maintenance and upgrading works, meaning only just over a third of the official capacity can be used at present. The entire allocation of tickets for the Chinese fans have already been sold out.
Meanwhile, the Philippines have appointed Serbian Goran Milojevic as their head coach.
It is believed that this is merely a token appointment though, as Scott Cooper will continue to pull the strings. The appointment of Milojevic was likely done because Cooper lacks the necessary coaching licenses to be the head coach as per FIFA regulations, and he has been designated as the 'Assistant Coach' of the Azkals.
Football Association of Maldives announced that they have written to FIFA and AFC after two players from the squad were unable to travel to Guam as they were not issued visas from the US Embassy. The Maldives squad and staff have been camping in Colombo since the 14th of September, and were put through lengthy, individual interviews and paperwork as part of the visa process.
The two players are midfielder Hussain Nihan, and third choice goalkeeper Hussain Shareef. Nihan in particular is seen as an important member of the starting XI. He made his national team debut in the semifinals of the SAFF Suzuki Cup last year, and is credited for turning around Maldives' fortunes in the tournament via his energetic displays in the middle of the park.
Maldives are now extremely light in midfield options after another important starter, Ibrahim Waheed, was allowed to leave the squad on compassionate grounds. This means that Maldives have lost their most creative outlet, as well as the midfield engine just days ahead of the match.
In the last edition, several players from Turkmenistan, Oman, Iran and India were also denied visas at the last minute, prompting Iran to file a complaint against the Guam FA.
Since the last set of WCQ Syria have looked pretty bad from an outsiders perspective (only 5 wins in 25 games). Would the Philippines be going in as favourites tonight?
Guam players have lost their heads after going behind. They're more interested in kicking their opponents than the ball now. I hope we won't get any injuries before the match against China seeing how our squad is stretched so thin as it is.
Their team are very sore losers. Were the same way when we wrecked them last cycle 6-0 both times. Denied 5 of our players visas and acted as though Iran is a dangerous place.
American propaganda at its finest.
Not just Iran but having gone through the fan forums, it appears that all the teams they came up against in the last cycle had at least one player who got denied visas. Two players from Maldives had the same issue this time and they have reported this to FIFA and AFC. Not holding our breath though, no one cares about us.
If Guam cannot guarantee visas for visiting teams, then their home matches should be held at a neutral country with more visa-friendly policies. I will be surprised if Syria manages to field eleven players in Guam.
You guys got the win though. Just focus on getting results elsewhere. Maybe make the return leg intimidating for them.
Guam 0-1 Maldives
Philippines 2-5 Syria
Guam 1-4 Philippines
Maldives 0-5 China
In the last cycle, Guam was a trip into the unknown for opposing sides but teams appear to have figured them out. Both Maldives and Philippines traveled to Guam with enough time to acclimatize to the environment and to shake off jet lag. They may well end the campaign on zero points, having got beaten in both games where they were most likely to win points.
China may have won big in their opener, but I still think Syria will pip them to top spot. Maldives managed to get into good positions in the final third before seeing their attacks fizzle out, and better sides would have exploited these opportunities.
China 7-0 Guam
Syria 2-1 Maldives
Philippines 0-0 China
Syria 4-0 Guam
The first "shock" result of this group came all the way on matchday 4 as China, who had scored 12 in their first two games without reply, were held to a stalemate in the Philippines. Syria too, came close to squandering a two goal lead against Maldives after some profligate defending in the final 20 minutes of the match, but held on.
China will travel to the UAE to face Syria in what could be a defining match for both teams.
Maldives 1 Philippines 2
Syria 2 China 1
Syria lead by 5 at the half way mark with China leading Philippines on goal difference.
If China misses out on the best runners-up positions, they could go without playing any competitive matches until the 2023 Asian Cup which they are hosting.
Maldives 3 Guam 1
Syria 1 Philippines 0
Syria have this group pretty much wrapped up. Realistically only China with a game in hand and 3 home games could catch them. Even if they don't they should get enough points to finish as one of the better second placed teams. Maldives have an inflated position as all 6 points come from defeating Guam twice.
The CFA are negotiating with AFC and the Football Association of Thailand to play the China vs Maldives match in Thailand, due to the current situation with the COVID-19 virus.
The match scheduled on 26th March is likely to be played at the Chang Arena, Buriram, behind closed doors.
"Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, China PR are unable to play in the People’s Republic and instead will now play their home match against Maldives on March 26, 2020 at the Chang Arena, Buriram in Thailand.
In addition, the Guam FA has agreed that its home tie against China PR on March 31 will also be staged at the same venue."
Guam's home match to be played at a neutral venue due to temporary restrictions imposed upon passengers travelling from China by US immigration.