AFC Cup defending champions Al Ahed from Lebanon will discover their opponents in the group stage draw for the 2020 AFC Cup, which will take place at the AFC House in the Malaysian capital at 1400hrs (local time) on Tuesday, December 10.
The seven-time Lebanese Premier League champions, who finished their domestic campaign with an impressive 10-point lead over their closest rivals, have been placed in the highest ranked country pot for the West Zone, which also includes 2004 champions Al Jaish from Syria.
The stakes for the upcoming edition have been raised even higher after the AFC Executive Committee’s decision to allocate the 2020 AFC Cup winners with a guaranteed spot in the playoff stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League.
AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Windsor John said, “The AFC Cup has provided a pathway to excellence for so many of our clubs as well as aspiring and developing Member Associations.”
“It showcases and grows the passion for the game that is so unique to Asia and serves as a key platform to realise our ambitions to confirm football as the most popular sport in the Continent.”
“Each year, the competition improves in quality and reaches new audiences and with the added prospect of competing in the AFC Champions League in 2021, we have no doubts that the 2020 edition will captivate our fans once more and inspire our teams to create more history.”
Having paved the way for the development and progress of several first-time participants over the years, the 2020 edition looks set to live up to the AFC Cup’s promise once more as clubs from Brunei Darussalam and Timor-Leste prepare to make their debut this season.
But the likes of Timor-Leste’s Lalenok United FC and Indera SC from Brunei Darussalam will first need to navigate past Indonesia’s PSM Makassar and Yangon United FC from Myanmar respectively in the ASEAN play-off stage over two legs in January 2020.
The ASEAN Zone will be represented by at least one debut club as Laos’ Master7 FC and Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC from Cambodia battle in the playoff to seal their first-ever spot in the AFC Cup group stage.