The official also maintained the possibility of playing matches behind closed doors if the need arises

AFC General Secretary Windsor John has assured that all slated continental tournaments will be finished by the end of the year, with the possibility of the matches being played behind closed doors if needed.

The competitions have been put on hold since March along with most of the major football leagues around the world due to the widespread destruction caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

But, General Secretary Dato Windsor John assured that the matches will be played on revised dates and the complete schedule would be out by the end of April. The need for playing out these matches arises from the AFC needing to accord to “sporting reasons and commercial obligations” as stated by the official.

Citing the reference of the AFC Cup and the AFC Champions League, he stated, “Both will be played this year. We still have time.”

In the event that both competitions are resumed, there would be a real time crunch for the matches to be scheduled and completed, which also complicates travelling of the clubs as well as maintenance of shape and fitness of the players to meet what would certainly be a grueling schedule.

The AFC Champions League which features 32 teams is supposed to be completed by July before the knockout rounds finish by the end of August. But, the catch remains that there are four rounds of matches still to be played which makes it very tight in terms of scheduling and is sure to give headaches to the team staff, players as well as the organizers and scheduling personnel. The finals of both the competitions are expected to be scheduled in November.

Windsor John’s statement comes on the back of domestic competitions being halted all across Asia in the wake of the pandemic. China was at the heart of the catastrophe which exacerbated the situation forcing shutdown of footballing action at the national and continental level.

The men’s qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup also stand postponed at the moment and so does the Women’s Olympic qualifying playoff between China and South Korea, which was scheduled in April. The fixture has now been moved to June 1st with the return leg to be played on June 9.

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