Virus bodes ill for AFC Champs League

  • Football
  • Tuesday, 04 Feb 2020

PETALING JAYA: The fate of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL) matches will be known today as the coronavirus outbreak in China has thrown things into disarray.

The East-Zone group stage matches had been scheduled to be played on Feb 11 and 12, but travel restrictions and growing health concerns due to the deadly virus could force the AFC to postpone the dates.

A number of sporting events, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifiers, have been cancelled and postponed due to the outbreak.

Malaysia’s sole representative in the ACL, Johor Darul Ta’zim, have been drawn in Group G with Japanese side Vissel Kobe, Suwon Samsung Bluewings of South Korea and China’s Guangzhou Ever-grande.

The Southern Tigers are slated to kick off their campaign against Vissel Kobe at the Misaki Park Stadium in Kobe on Feb 12, while Suwon are supposed to host Guangzhou at the Suwon World Cup Stadium on the same day.

The meeting at the AFC headquarters here will involve all key stakeholders – member associations, leagues, clubs and commercial agencies participating in the ACL.

“The meeting will discuss the impact of various government travel restrictions following the outbreak of the virus and its classification by the World Health Organisation as a global health emergency.

“As the governing body for football in Asia, the AFC are determined to protect the competition and make proper and appropriate plans, including but not limited to rescheduling matches in the East Zone,” the confederation said in a statement.

Earlier, media reports stated that Football Federation Australia had informed the AFC that the first group stage matches scheduled in Perth and Sydney could not be played due to travel restrictions in the country following the outbreak.

Perth Glory were supposed to host Shanghai Shenhua on Feb 11, while Sydney FC were to play Shanghai SIPG a day later.

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