Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], November 11 (ANI): The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Wednesday announced that its Competitions Committee has approved the dates for the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
AFC said that in an online meeting, chaired by Tran Quoc Tuan, it was agreed that all the Asian Qualifiers Round 2 matches should be completed by June 15, 2021, with Match Day 7 and 8 in March 2021 and Match Day 9 and 10 in June 2021 with the Final Round of the Asian Qualifiers beginning in September 2021.
"It was agreed, in collaboration with FIFA, that the 10 matchdays of the Asian Qualifiers Final Round should be finished by the end of March 2022 with the Asian and Inter-Continental Play-offs proposed for the FIFA Window May/June in 2022. The Asian Play-off for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is proposed as a single match," AFC said in a statement.
Moreover, the AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022 bidding process was also agreed. The tournament was originally scheduled for China PR in 2022 as a preparatory competition ahead of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 but the Chinese Football Association (CFA) has now informed the AFC they are no longer able to stage the tournament.
AFC said that now the Committee has agreed that the hosting process for the 2022 and 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup editions will be reopened to Member Associations in the West with the intention of the 2026 tournament again providing preparation for the AFC Asian Cup in 2027.
"It is intended that all future AFC U23 Asian Cups in the non-Olympic years will be hosted by the Member Association staging the subsequent AFC Asian Cup while the competition dates for the AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022 will be further discussed," AFC said.
In the meeting, Tuan thanked the Qatar FA and the Qatar Authorities, as well as the AFC Administration, for the successful staging of the AFC Champions League (West) in September and October as well as the preparations for the AFC Champions League (East) which begins next week.
"We have successfully completed the AFC Champions League in the West and in just a few days, we will kick-off the competition for the East region clubs. Our sincere thanks go to the Qatar Football Association and the Qatar Government as well as our congratulations to the AFC Administration," Tuan said in a statement.
"They have done an excellent job. I am sure they will build on their expertise to stage an outstanding tournament, including the Final on December 19. At all times the safety and health of all the players, teams, and officials have been and remain our priority," he added.
The Committee also agreed to nominate an AFC COVID-19 Sub Committee for the East Zone matches following the efficient decision-making process of a corresponding Sub Committee during the AFC Champions League (West).
The Sub Committee, chaired by the AFC Competitions chairperson Tran, will decide on urgent matters under the AFC Champions League 2020 Regulations and Special Rules applicable to the AFC Competitions During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Special Rules).
The Competition Regulations for the AFC Champions League 2021 and the AFC Cup 2021 were approved, AFC said. The new calendar for the AFC Cup 2021 was also approved while there would be further discussions on match dates and competition formats for the AFC Champions League 2021 with all stakeholders in the coming days.
"The Committee also agreed that the previously postponed AFC U-19 Championship will be staged in Uzbekistan between March 3 to 20, 2021 and they also accepted changes to the eligibility rules for the AFC U-16 Championship Bahrain to allow players born on or after January 1, 2004, to play in the tournament. The dates for the AFC U-16 Championship, also postponed from 2020, are to be further discussed," the statement further read. (ANI)