Al Wahda could miss Asian Champions League group stage after staff test positive for coronavirus

Abu Dhabi side were scheduled to fly to Doha this week and resume their Group A campaign

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - August 12, 2019: Ref Muhammad Taqi tries to calm things down during the Asian Champions League round 16 return leg between Al Wahda of the UAE and Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia. Monday the 12th of August 2019. Al Wadha, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Al Wahda may be forced to sit out the upcoming Asian Champions League group stage after they were unable to travel to Qatar because several members of the club tested positive for Covid-19.

The Abu Dhabi side were scheduled to fly to Doha this week to resume their Group A campaign in the revised format. The tournament was postponed in March because of the coronavirus outbreak, with the remaining West Asian fixtures – four match days –to take place this month in Qatar.

However, Wahda’s staff has been placed in a 14-day quarantine after some of the group contracted Covid-19 and therefore must remain in the UAE.

The quarantine period overlaps with the beginning of the delayed tournament, with Wahda scheduled to play Iran’s Esteghlal on Monday. Currently second in their group, their remaining matches are slated for September 17, 20 and 23.

The Football Association asked the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to postpone Wahda’s matches, however the request was rejected.

In a statement, the continental governing body said: “The AFC has written to the United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAE FA) to inform them that the request by the UAE FA and the club for a postponement of the group matches cannot be accommodated because of the advanced preparations in which many teams have already travelled to Qatar for the competition.

“The matter will now be referred to the relevant AFC committees for a decision in accordance with the applicable regulations.”

Wahda said in a statement: “The club hopes to find the fairness from the concerned authorities and considering the uncontrollable reasons, which impacted the team’s preparations to continue its participation in the last moment.

“The management of Al Wahda club stresses that the safety of the team’s members and the society is a high priority that cannot be taken lightly.”

Three other UAE clubs – Sharjah, Al Ain and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, are also completing their groups in Qatar this month. Shabab Al Ahli flew to Doha on Thursday. The AFC has announced the East Zone group stage, originally scheduled to resume in mid-October in Malaysia, will now be played from November 15-December 13.