April 7 – With the AFC Champions League set to start today with preliminary qualifying rounds, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has reaffirmed the confederation’s commitment to its competition calendar.
Speaking at an AFC executive committee meeting in Manama, Bahrain, attended by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Salman said: “The successful completion of the 2020 AFC Champions League has given us a template to approach 2021 with greater confidence and our thanks must go to the Qatar Football Association, the Qatari Authorities and the medical professionals for their commitment and support.
“Our sincere appreciation must also go to all our Member Associations who have agreed to host our national team and club matches in the coming weeks and months.”
The AFC suspended its Asian Qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup and the Asian Cup 2023 in China last month, forcing a compression of the calendar for World Cup qualifying in particular, into a June continuation.
Group qualification will then resume with 12 teams going forward into two groups of six that will play qualify the top two teams from each group for Qatar and the third placed teams for a shot at the inter-continental play-off place.
Salman emphasised the importance of the return to competition saying: “It was crucial for us to show the world that Asian football is ready to return – for the players, the teams and fans across the Continent and, just as important, we must continue to demonstrate that the AFC is in the best possible position to deliver safe and world-class competitions as underlined in the AFC’s Vision.”
At the meeting the Executive Committee awarded the hosting rights of the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 to Uzbekistan while confirming the new dates from April 4-17, 2022. The AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 will be hosted by the Football Association of Indonesia from May 9-22.
The executive committee also decided that the 31st AFC Congress would be held in conjunction with the AFC Annual Awards in Doha, Qatar, in November 2021.
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