AFC Champions League to switch to one-leg matches from quarter-finals

UAE clubs Sharjah and Al Wahda to meet in last 16

The Asian Football Confederation has confirmed the latter stages of the Asian Champions League will revert to single matches instead of two legs, given continuing concerns regarding travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The original schedule for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final was to be two matches, played home and away. However, the quarter-finals and semi-finals, slated for October 16 and October 19 respectively, will now take place in a centralised location - yet to be determined - while the final will be hosted by a team from the West region on November 23.

On Monday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said: “Taking into consideration the existing uncertainties related to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing travel restrictions imposed across the continent, the AFC Executive Committee agreed that it was essential to minimise the travel frequency of the participating clubs, while underlining its continued commitment towards ensuring the safety and well-being of all players, teams, officials and key stakeholders.”

The UAE has two entrants in the Champions League last 16, with Sharjah and Al Wahda to face one another in September for a place in the quarter-finals. The five groups in the West side of the draw were played in centralised hubs in April, with Sharjah hosting their Group B. They topped the pool. Meanwhile, the five groups in the East are ongoing.

The AFC confirmed also on Monday that next year’s Champions League will be played in centralised venues, with the group stages to take place in May. The West region, which features for certain Arabian Gulf League sides Al Jazira and Shabab Al Ahli, is set for May 10-26.

Updated: July 5th 2021, 6:22 AM