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Football 03 Oct 2020 | 9:15 PM

J-League clubs look to split squads to honour domestic and continental commitments

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Japanese clubs playing in the Asian Champions League (ACL) will look to balance commitments in both the continental championship and the J-League’s top flight despite clashes due to changes in the schedules of the two competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Three teams – Japanese champions Yokohama F Marinos, Emperor’s Cup winners Vissel Kobe and FC Tokyo – have qualified for the group phase of the ACL, slated to resume in mid-November after an original plan to restart in mid-October was abandoned.But with matches in the J-League’s top J1 division also pushed back to December after a four-month break, clubs involved in the ACL face a major dilemma.Final games of the J-League season are due on Dec. 19, the same date as the decider in the ACL, but officials stated the clubs’ desire to play in both competitions meant the domestic set-up will try to accommodate their wishes. “Under normal circumstances both we and the Japan Football Association would have objected to the Asian Football Confederation’s decision to change the schedule again, but they made their decision and while we were disappointed we spoke to the three clubs,” J-League Vice President Hiromi Hara was quoted saying by the Japan Times.“All three clubs unequivocally said that they want to contest both the J1 and the ACL as best as they can ... The ACL is the biggest club competition in Asia and the clubs want to do as well as they can in the J1, so we respected their wishes (in deciding the schedule).”