The West Region matches, which are scheduled to take place between April 14-30, will see Saudi Arabia host Groups A and D in Riyadh as well as Group C in Jeddah, with the matches in Group B to be staged in the United Arab Emirates city of Sharjah, while India, whose representative FC Goa are poised to mark the nation’s debut in Asia’s premier club competition, will host Group E.
In the East Region, the AFC has decided to postpone the Group Stage matches originally planned for April 21 - May 7 to June/July 2021, taking into consideration the existing travel restrictions and quarantine challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Thailand will provide the backdrop for the matches in the East Region Groups F, G and J, with the venues for Groups H and I as well as the exact dates for all Groups to be decided and communicated in due course. The Preliminary and Playoff matches of the AFC Champions League 2021 (East) are also postponed and will be played in centralised venues of their respective Group Stage matches.
As part of the bidding process, which was opened to all Participating Member Associations, a wide range of requirements were put in place to ensure adherence to the highest health and safety protocols and standards.
These include minimum travel and quarantine restrictions for away clubs, the convenience of flight connections and the medical situation in the host country, sufficient venues to organise the matches and, most importantly, mandatory Covid-19 test to be organised for all players and officials, the costs of which will be borne by the AFC.
Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to thank all our Member Associations for their interest in hosting our club competitions and commitment towards ensuring we continue to place the safety and wellbeing of our players, teams, and officials at the forefront of all our priorities.
“The AFC is most grateful for the support of the AFC Competitions Committee and our commercial partners and we will continue to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders as we strive to ensure a safe and successful 2021 club football season.”
To recap the confirmed hosts of the AFC Cup 2021 Group Stage, please click here.