KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Champions League will resume in two regional hubs in September and October with a single match deciding the title in early December, the Asian Football Confederation said on Thursday.
The continent’s elite club competition, which was suspended in early March because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, will resume first in West Asia on Sept 14 and in East Asia on Oct 16 at centralised venues as yet to be confirmed.
While group matches will be played in full in a round robin format as originally planned, fixtures in the latter stages of the tournament from the round of 16 onwards will be single knockout matches rather than the usual two-legged format.
The teams will play among themselves on East-West lines throughout the tournament until the final between the best team from each region in the western hub on Dec 5.
Four matches involving teams from the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Iraq will get the western zone back underway, while Australia’s Perth Glory will play China’s Shanghai Shenhua in the opening match in the East.
The AFC Cup, the competition for more minor football playing nations in the continent, will also resume in centralised venues in East and West Asia starting in late October with a one-off final scheduled for Dec 12.
“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,” AFC General Secretary Windsor John said in a statement.
The postponed Asian under-19 championship will now take place in Uzbekistan from Oct 14-31, while the under-16 tournament has been rescheduled for Nov 25-Dec 12 in Bahrain.