The Asian Football Confederation has confirmed it will extend the dates of the knockout rounds of the Asian Champions League, as football on the continent continues to be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Representatives of the respective East Zone member associations whose teams compete in the tournament met in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, where they agreed to push back the fixtures to allow more time to complete the disrupted group games.
Group matches scheduled for March and April that cannot be played will be moved to May 19-20 (Match Day 3) and will now run until June 23-24 (Match Day 6). Where matches have been agreed between the two clubs, they will go ahead as planned, if agreed by other stakeholders, said the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in a statement.
Given the delay, the knockout stage will begin later in the summer, in August instead of its traditional May slot. The two-legged final remains slated for November 22 (East) and 28 (West).
A full list of fixtures will be confirmed by March 16, after the AFC meets with its West Zone representatives in Dubai on Saturday. From the UAE, Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Al Wahda and Al Ain contest this year’s competition. All four of their third group matches, supposed to take place this week, were postponed.
Dato Windsor John, the AFC general secretary, said: “These are challenging, and unprecedented times and we are grateful that everyone has come together to try and find a solution which works for everyone.
“As the AFC President, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has already stated, the AFC will not put anyone at risk during these times of heightened health concerns and so we have taken some sensible decisions to postpone both matches and events.
“The AFC hopes that there is a quick and safe end to this current situation and that we can return to normality where football can play a role in bringing some joy and entertainment to people’s lives. Our support and sympathies are extended to communities affected.”