AFC adjusts as Covid resurgence in China forces Shanghai Port out of Champions League

April 11 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is having to rapidly adjust its schedules again as a new surge of covid has forced the pull out of China’s Shanghai Port FC from the Champions League group stages that start later this month.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) confirmed the club’s withdrawal following the recent lockdown measures in Shanghai as the Omicron BA.2 variant spread to levels never seen before in China. Further lockdown measures are expected across China due to the highly transmittable nature of the virus and the Chinese government’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to controlling it.

The AFC acknowledged the travel restrictions and competitions body has ruled that all matches involving Shanghai Port FC will be cancelled and there will be no replacement for the club in Group J, which will now consist of three teams – Chiangrai United FC from Thailand, Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC and Vissel Kobe from Japan – and will continue to be played as a centralised group in Thailand.

The knock-on effect of the withdrawal is that there will be a new calculation to decide the three best second-placed participating clubs that will qualify to the Round of 16. Matches between the second-placed and fourth-placed participating clubs across all the Champions League East groups – F, G, H, I and J – will not be counted in the final calculation.

The Group J match day schedule will continue as planned, with Kitchee SC set to face Chiangrai United on April 16 while Vissel Kobe will open their campaign against Kitchee SC on April 19 at the Buriram Stadium.

AFC Cup 2022

The AFC has also altered its Asian Cup schedule following the Football Association of Maldives (FAM)’s confirmation of Club Valencia’s withdrawal from the competition.

They had been due to play a preliminary stage qualifier against Abahani Limited Dhaka from Bangladesh tomorrow (April 12).

The Bangladeshis will now have a bye into the AFC Cup Playoff Stage (South) and will face the winners of the match between ATK Mohun Bagan from India and Sri Lanka’s Blue Star SC on April 19, 2022, for the final place in Group D.

Group D, which comprises India’s Gokulam Kerala, Bashundhara Kings from Bangladesh and Maziya Sports and Recreation of the Maldives, is scheduled to take place in Kolkata, India, from May 18 to 24, 2022.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1653008492labto1653008492ofdlr1653008492owedi1653008492sni@n1653008492osloh1653008492cin.l1653008492uap1653008492

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