The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has reiterated its commitment to complete all its competitions lined up in 2020 with a new calendar, including India’s World Cup Qualifiers against Qatar and Afghanistan in October and November respectively, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
India, who is already out of reckoning for progression to the later stages of the 2022 World Cup Qualifications but still has a chance to make the 2023 Asian Cup, is scheduled to host Qatar on October 8 and Afghanistan on November 17.
The Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup, which were postponed from March, June and September, have already been rearranged for October and November.
Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC general secretary, said: “The AFC Administration has been in constant dialogue with our MAs, Leagues and Clubs in recent weeks so that we can establish a clear picture of the opportunities that exist in each MA.
“During those discussions which began in Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Dubai and Delhi in February and March, and have continued online ever since, we have looked to agree a calendar of matches that will allow us to complete both the club competitions and centralised tournaments in 2020.”
The venues for the centralised groups to be used for both the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup are to be confirmed.
All of the planned group stage matches will be played in full while the knock-out rounds will now consist of single match ties (rather than home and away), as will be the final of both competitions.
Dato’ Windsor added, “I would like to thank all our stakeholders, including our MAs, the Leagues and Clubs as well as our Commercial and Broadcast Partners, once again for their understanding and patience as well as loyalty and commitment to Asian football during what continues to be a difficult and uncertain time in the history of our game.
“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.”