Lion City Sailors will have to wait until next season to make their debut in Asian Football Confederation (AFC) competitions.

This comes after confirmation from the AFC earlier today (7 July 2021) that all matches of the AFC Cup 2021 ASEAN Zone have been cancelled due to the challenges imposed by the global pandemic in finding a suitable host to stage the centralised matches.

The ASEAN Zone comprises Groups G, H and I as well as the Playoff Stage that would have followed. The Sailors were drawn in Group H alongside Kedah Darul Aman FC of Malaysia, Indonesia’s Persipura Jayapura and the Vietnamese side, Saigon FC.

Geylang International was slated to be Singapore’s other representative in the competition, in Group I.

“We were looking forward to competing against regional clubs, and all of us are disappointed that our portion of the AFC Cup competition has been cancelled,” said Sailors Chief Executive, Chew Chun-Liang.

“But we are acutely aware of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Sailors remain supportive of measures that help keep football fans, players and staff, across the region safe.”

New Sailors Head Coach Kim Do-hoon will now shift his focus to the Singapore Premier League (SPL). The Korean will have to drive his charges to finish among the top three local clubs in the SPL to earn the right to compete in the region next season.

Said Chew: “We will continue to work hard to achieve success locally to ensure we qualify for AFC competitions next season and work towards our vision of competing and doing well in the region.”

The Sailors are currently second in the eight-team SPL standings, one point behind Albirex Niigata (S). Kim’s men will take on Albirex on 23 July in a top of the table clash that marks his first game at the helm.