UAE clubs set to resume Asian Champions League campaign after AFC announce new dates

Al Wahda, Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli, and Al Ain will return to action on September 14/15

UAE clubs competing in the Asian Champions League will resume their campaigns on September 14/15 at centralised venues after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced a new schedule to complete this year's tournament.

The continent's elite club competition, which was suspended in early March because of the coronavirus outbreak, will start with the four group stage rounds remaining in the West Zone.

That section of the Champions League includes four UAE representatives: Al Wahda in Group A, Shabab Al Ahli in Group B, Sharjah in Group C, and Al Ain in Group D.

Wahda are well placed in their pool, sitting second on four points, level with Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli. The Abu Dhabi side will first play their 'home' game against Iran's Esteghlal on September 14, before facing the same opponents in the 'away' game on September 17.

Wahda then take on Al Ahli on September 20 and will complete their group stage commitments against Al Shorta three days later.

Shabab Al Ahli have some catching up to do in Group B. The Dubai side will aim to claim their first points against Shahr Khodro on September 14 and will take on the Iranian outfit again three days later. On September 20, Shabab Al Ahli play Pakhtakor and then face defending Asian champions Al Hilal.

Sharjah, bottom of Group C but only two points behind Al Duhail in second, face the Qatari side back-to-back on September 15 and 18. They then take on Al Taawoun on September 21 and Persepolis on September 24.

Al Ain, the only UAE side to win the Asian Champions League title but currently winless at the bottom of Group D, will face Al Sadd on September 15 and 18. Their penultimate fixture is against Sepahan on September 21 before rounding off the group stage three days later against Al Nassr.

The top two teams from each group will progress to the Round of 16, which will be held on September 26 and 27. The quarter-finals are scheduled for September 30 and the semi-finals for October 3. The final will then take place on December 5.

All matches, including the final, will be played over one leg.

The East Zone has a greater match backlog and aim to complete their group fixtures from October 16 to November 1 also in a centralised venue yet to be named.

Chinese clubs Shanghai SIPG, Shanghai Shenhua and Guangzhou Evergrande are yet to play any group stage match after travel restrictions were imposed on teams from China, where the virus was first reported.

AFC general secretary Windsor John said it had been a "difficult and uncertain time in the history of our game".

But he added he was "delighted that we are seeing more encouraging progress on the return of many domestic leagues to the field," paving the way for the resumption of AFC club tournaments.

Published: July 9, 2020 04:07 PM

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