Asia’s continental national and club football will return to action in October as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has released a revised format to complete this season’s competitions.

Both the AFC Champions League (ACL) and AFC Cup for season 2020 were halted as early as February as COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, forcing all football activities to be suspended until the situation is improved.

Apart from its club competitions, the AFC also announced that national and futsal competitions would be able to be resume and conclude by year-end.

The revised format, albeit positively welcomed by AFC members also means tight fixtures await two ASEAN representatives Chiangrai United and Johor Darul Ta’zim FC, whose fixtures in the ACL have to be effectively addressed alongside their respective domestic competitions.

The AFC general secretary Dato’ Windsor John said that in recent weeks, the governing body has been in constant dialogue with member associations, leagues and clubs to look at the existing opportunities.

During discussions which began in Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Dubai and Delhi last February and March, and later on continued online, Dato’ Windsor added that they have agreed on a calendar of matches that will allow them to complete both the club competitions and centralised tournaments in 2020.

As reflected in the AFC’s official website, all ACL and AFC Cup group stage matches will be completed and be played at the centralised venue within a month, starting from October.

The venues for the centralised groups to be used for both the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup will be confirmed in due course, and also refitted to have the knockout rounds played in a single tie than the regular home and away fixtures, as will the Final of both competitions.

Dato’ Windsor extended his appreciation to all of their stakeholders, including their MAs, the Leagues and Clubs as well as Commercial and Broadcast Partners, 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,” he said.

The Bruneian |KUALA LUMPUR

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