Malaysia steps up to host AFC Champions League East Zone matches

July 29 – Malaysia will host two of the unfinished AFC Champions League’s East Asian groups as well as the knock-out rounds, assuming travel and quarantine restrictions allow teams to cross international borders.

Previously, the Asian confederation had confirmed Qatar as the centralised venue to host the group and knock-out stage matches in the west region. In the East the group stages have not progressed as far before the coronavirus lockdown suspended play.  No East zone team had played more than two matches in their group stages and Chinese clubs have still to start their campaigns.

Confirming Malaysia’s appointment, the AFC said: “The Football Association of Malaysia has been confirmed as the host Member Association for the 2020 AFC Champions League East Zone Group G and H matches which will take place from October 17 to November 1, 2020.”

The centralised venue for groups E and F have still to be decided.

The Asian Football Confederation has rejigged the logistics, but largely maintained the format of its flagship club competition that was suspended in March. Malaysia is still in lockdown with very little international travel and two-week quarantine procedures currently in place.

It is hoped that by November conditions will have eased and the second wave of the virus that appears to be threatening in some Asian countries will be under control. It is possible that the Malaysian government may have to give special dispensation to allow some teams to enter the country.

Malaysia will also host the Round of 16 which will see teams from both groups battle on November 4, two quarter-final matches on November 25 and one semi-final tie three days. In the knockout stages, all matches will be played as single match ties as opposed to the usual home and away format.

In the AFC’s west zone, the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar will  step in to stage the matches in a centralized venue. The West Asian zone includes Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Uzbekistan.

The AFC has planned the competition’s final for December 5, when the two semi-final winning teams from each region will meet.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1606820108labto1606820108ofdlr1606820108owedi1606820108sni@o1606820108fni1606820108

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