The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Thursday that the AFC Cup 2020 has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AFC U-16 and U-19 Championships in Bahrain and Uzbekistan, respectively, have been postponed till early 2021.
AFC had announced on July 22 that the remaining matches will be played in a centralised location for all the groups. However, as the pandemic has not subsided in most parts of Asia, it had become almost impossible for AFC to host the remaining matches as the safety of the players and officials is the utmost priority.
India MA points benefit from the move
Chennai City FC were ranked 3rd in Group E in the AFC Cup after Matchday 1 following a 2-2 draw with Maziya Sports and Recreation. Basundhara Sports were top of the standings with TC Sports at the bottom. Bengaluru FC failed to make it beyond the play-off stage as they lost to Maziya 4-3 on penalties after 4-4 on aggregate.
The decision allows the All India football Federation (AIFF) to maintain its Member Association (MA Ranking) for the 2019-20 Asian Football season. The move secures India's participation in the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup 2022 with the same number (3) slots in the continental tournaments.
FC Goa will represent India in the AFC Champions League 2021, while ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC will take the two spots in AFC Cup.
The postponement of the AFC U-16 Championship till 2021 will provide much-needed rest and time for the Indian colts to train and get ready for the continental championship in Bahrain. India is grouped with South Korea, Australia and Uzbekistan in Group C.
AFC President Shaikh Salman added:
“These are tough times for everyone connected with football – and sport in general. We are taking steps to ensure the financial well-being of the AFC and its MAs.
“I am certain that with the unity and solidarity for which the AFC has become admired across football, we can overcome this latest challenge.”
The AFC Champions League 2020 is set to continue with West Zone games beginning from 14 September. The East Zone games are suspended till November 13, 2020. The final of the Champions League will be played in a single-game event in the West Asian Zone instead of the regular two-legged finale.Published 11 Sep 2020, 02:45 IST