By Paul Nicholson
July 9 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) the first regional body to shut down its international competitions when the Covid-19 pandemic broke – has released a new calendar for the completion of its 2020 club and national team competitions.
As well as moving to centralised venues club competitions will also be streamlined in the knockout stages to single matches rather than two-legged ties.
The AFC had already re-scheduled its Asian Qualifiers for the World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Second Round, to October and November 2020. It is has now re-confirmed dates for its U-16 and U-19 championships as well as rescheduling its postponed national team and club Futsal finals to now be held in Turkmenistan and the UAE in November and December.
Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, said: “The AFC Administration has been in constant dialogue with our MAs, Leagues and Clubs in recent weeks so that we can establish a clear picture of the opportunities that exist in each MA.
“During those discussions which began in Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Dubai and Delhi in February and March, and have continued online ever since, we have looked to agree a calendar of matches that will allow us to complete both the club competitions and centralised tournaments in 2020.”
For the AFC Champions League that schedule will see the four groups in the West Zone restart competition in September – teams have played two matches so far and have four to play to complete the groups – while the East Zone groups will complete in October. Some clubs in the East have yet to start their Champions League campaigns.
The AFC has asked member associations to send in their willingness and proposals to host the grouped matches and will make final decisions on where games will be played depending on local travel restrictions and infrastructure available.
The knockout rounds for the East and West zones will also be at centralised venues before the final which will now be played December 5 and which qualifies the AFC’s representative to this December’s Club World Cup in Qatar.
AFC Champions League schedule 2020
The AFC’s second tier club competition, the AFC Cup which is competed for by teams outside the 12 countries with AFC Champions League qualification, will similarly be played in centralised venues but presents more challenges because of the different levels of football infrastructure in these countries.
Teams from Afghanistan, DPR Korea, Guam, Macau, Northern Mariana, Nepal, Pakistan and Yemen have already been excluded due to club licensing issues. To date no countries have said they are not prepared to play.
AFC Cup schedule 2020
Dates and venues for the rescheduled national team competitions are:
- AFC U-19 Championship Uzbekistan – October 14 to 31, 2020.
- AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan – November 4 to 15, 2020.
- AFC U-16 Championship Bahrain – November 25 to December 12, 2020.
- AFC Futsal Club Championship United Arab Emirates – December 2 to 13, 2020.
With a bulk of the AFC’s member nations having returned their top tier leagues to action the AFC is encouraged that it will be able to get its 2020 competition completed.
“I would like to thank all our stakeholders, including our MAs, the Leagues and Clubs as well as our Commercial and Broadcast Partners, once again for their understanding and patience as well as loyalty and commitment to Asian football during what continues to be a difficult and uncertain time in the history of our game,” said John.
“Notwithstanding the challenging times, I am delighted that we are seeing more encouraging progress on the return of many domestic Leagues to the field and with them comes an expectation that we can conclude both the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup in the coming months.”
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