AFC Cup draw plots route through Covid challenges to October final

August 4 – The knockout draw for the AFC Cup 2021 took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia earlier today (Wednesday).

The virtual draw saw the participating clubs placed in two Pots – West Zone and Inter-Zone Play-off – based on their Zonal representations without any seeding or country protection.

The AFC Cup is the confederation’s club competition for developing nations. Having been cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, covid outbreaks and travel challenges have again forced the AFC to be creative around its planning. All matches are now single leg ties.

The winners of the West Zonal Semi-Final between Muharraq Club of Bahrain and title holders Al Ahed FC of Lebanon will host the Final against the winners of the Kuwait SC and Al Salt of Jordan Semi-Final. The Semi-Finals will be played on September 20 and 21.

The four semi-finalists were placed in the West Zone pot with the first ball drawn selected as host club for the West Zone Final scheduled for October 20. The West Zone champions will also host the AFC Cup Final on November 5.

Due to the cancellation of the ASEAN Zone matches, the three Zonal champions from the Central, South and East Zones were drawn into two pairings where one club received a bye to the Inter-Zone Final.

The champions of the Central Zone – to be decided between FC Nasaf of Uzbekistan and FC Ahal of Turkmenistan on August 25 – will host the Inter-Zone Final against the winners of the South Zone on September 22.

The Inter-Zone Semi-Final winners, who will host the final on October 20, will face East Zone champions Lee Man of Hong Kong in the regional decider.

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