The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League and AFC Cup matches will be played on Monday and Tuesday in the West Zone from next season following a recommendation by the AFC Competitions Committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday
The Committee, chaired by Mr Saoud Al Mohannadi (Qatar), also announced that the AFC had received four expressions of interest to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2023: from China PR, Indonesia (currently suspended by FIFA), Korea Republic and Thailand.
The suggestion of changing club competition match dates in the West Zone was made after three Member Associations – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar – noted that having AFC club competition match days on Tuesday and Wednesday was having a significant negative impact on their domestic leagues. The change will come into effect from the 2017 season and the match days will remain as Tuesday and Wednesday in the East Zone.
It was stated that the current match days were affecting crowds, television audiences and match revenue for the West Zone clubs playing in the AFC’s leading club competitions, as they were being forced to play their domestic matches on a Sunday.
The Competitions Committee was persuaded by the fact that only a small proportion of the West Zone AFC Champions League matches would be impacted. The Committee also agreed that the allocation for the AFC Champions League places for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons would be decided by the AFC MA ranking on November 30, 2016.
In this season’s AFC Cup, Syrian side Al Jaish and Ahli Al Khalil of Palestine have not been able to agree on a solution to play their Group D match following the Syrian side’s inability to obtain the necessary entry visas for Amman, Jordan – where the match was to be played on March 9, 2016 – the Committee decided the games should be played at alternative neutral venues.
Ahli Al Khalil will now play their home match on May 3 or 4, 2016, and the home fixture for Al Jaish will be played on May 10 or 11, 2016 – both at neutral venues. Failure to reach a solution would result in the matter being referred to the AFC Disciplinary Committee.
The Committee also decided that the AFC Group C match between Al Dharia (Palestine) and Syria’s Al Wahda scheduled for May 11, 2016 should also be moved to a neutral venue because of the restriction of Syrians entering Palestine.
Following the expression of interest by China PR, Indonesia, Korea Republic and Thailand by the deadline of March 31, 2016 in hosting the AFC Asian Cup in 2023, the AFC will now send out the Bidding Agreement and the Host Candidate Questionnaire and seek Government guarantees and legal opinion on the bids.
The AFC Asian Cup 2019 will be held in the United Arab Emirates, with Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah confirmed as the host cities for that tournament which will comprise 51 matches in eight stadiums over 28 days.
A new AFC international competition, to replace the AFC Challenge Cup, has been proposed to take place in November 2016 and September 2020 for the continent’s lowest-ranked teams who have little opportunity to organise international friendly matches.
Nepal, Brunei Darussalam, Macau, Mongolia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as the two teams eliminated after the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 qualifiers play-off, will form the participating teams for the 2016 competition.
The 14-day tournament will be played between the eight teams at a centralised venue, providing not only a minimum of three matches, but also including coaching, refereeing, technical and event management education courses.
The AFC Competitions Committee also decided that if the FIFA suspension of Kuwait FA is not lifted by May 13, 2016, the next highest ranked team in the AFC U-16 Championship qualifying competition would replace Kuwait in the competition. Kuwait had finished top of Group F in the qualifiers held in September last year.
press release by AFC Media