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Jakarta Post

AFC moves all East Asia Champions League games to Qatar



Doha, Qatar   /   Fri, October 9, 2020   /   02:50 pm
AFC moves all East Asia Champions League games to Qatar A file photo taken on Dec. 17, 2019 shows a view inside Qatar's new al-Bayt Stadium in the capital Doha, which will host matches of the FIFA football World Cup 2022. (AFP/Giuseppe Cacace )

The Asian Football Confederation on Friday said it has moved all remaining Asian Champions League games for East zone sides to Qatar from Malaysia.

The games, including remaining group matches, will now take place from Nov. 18 to Dec. 13 in Doha, which earlier this week saw the conclusion of West zone matches where Iran's Persepolis advanced to the Dec. 19 final at an as yet undecided venue.

East zone sides hail from China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand.

"We are extremely grateful for the outstanding support of the QFA (Qatar Football Association)," AFC secretary general Dato Windsor John said in a statement, which did not detail reasons for the change in venue.

"We can now build on the success of the AFC Champions League (West) while looking forward to the remaining exciting matches in Asia's premier club competition."

Steve Corica, head coach of Sydney FC, one of three Australian teams in the competition, said that with the details set in stone, his side could now look forward to the challenge ahead.

"It's pleasing to now know where we'll be playing and when, and we're looking forward to the trip providing we get the right bio-security clearances and approvals," he said.

"We have unfinished business in Group H and the boys are really looking forward to getting stuck back in against the best in Asia."

The Asian Champions League was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. West zone games were moved to Qatar where they resumed last month.

Despite stringent bio-security measures, several teams were affected by the novel coronavirus, with last year's winners Al Hilal axed from the competition after they reached the knockout phase with a game to spare.

The Saudi side had 30 players and staff infected by COVID-19 and so were unable to field the minimum number of players required for their final group match.