The Asian Champions League is set to make its long-awaited return to action after a six-month hiatus. However, the unique format has already seen some rather interesting scenarios appear.
The competition was split into east and west geographic zones in 2013 and has since stayed with that format ever since. But, only one zone of the competition is set to make its return after the six-month hiatus, with the western zone being deemed safe to get things started.
Competition in the western zone restarts with the clubs from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan all meeting in the regional ‘hub’ of Qatar, where all of the games will take place. The group stage and the first of two play-off rounds will be finished by the end of September.
The winner of the western zone is expected to be known when the top two teams play off at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium at the beginning of October. However, the eventual winners will still have to wait an extremely long time before they can even start preparing for their opponents. esport bettors can place bets sooner, though, when they search and find here the best apps to use.
With the final play-off game being played at the beginning of October, that means there is still a gap of six weeks before the eastern zone get things underway. Furthermore, the winner then will not emerge before Dec. 10.
Indeed, in light of current global circumstances, the Asian Football Confederation have had no choice but to push back the eastern zone’s restart to November, 15.
Travel restrictions have been tightened in the area and it does not help that clubs still have plenty of matches that they need to conclude.
Three of the four clubs from China have yet to play any of their six scheduled group games. Clubs from Japan, South Korea, Australia and Malaysia all have four or five games still to play. When the round-robin preliminary stage is over, there’s still scheduled to be three knockout rounds — each decided on a single game rather than the usual home-and-away format — to decide which team from the east reaches the final.
The eastern zone has already had its problems in trying to get games played, with the initial slate of games having been postponed from March and April to June, however they then needed moving to October, prior to the new November start date.
Games can hardly afford to be postponed again with the start of the 2021 edition of the tournament scheduled to take place in January, as the 2020 final is pencilled in as late as Dec. 19.
Things have hardly been plain-sailing in the western zone, though. Al-Wahda – who represent the United Arab Emirates – are unable to travel to Qatar as several members of their club tested posted for the virus. Becasue of this, they will have to forfeit their group games, according to the rules of the competition.