The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA on Wednesday announced that they have decided to postpone the remaining 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifying matches to 2021, taking into consideration the Covid-19 situation in numerous countries in the continent.
But it must be noted that the other marquee competitions, namely the AFC Champions League (ACL), AFC Cup, and the AFC U16 and U19 Championships, which are slated to be hosted at a centralised venue will stick to schedule.
The U16 tournament is proposed to take place from November 25 to December 12, 2020, in Bahrain. India have been drawn in Group C along with South Korea, Australia, and Uzbekistan. The tournament will be played at three venues, Riffa, Isa Town, and Muharraq. The Blue Colts will start their campaign on November 26 against Australia at the Bahrain National Stadium in Riffa.
Group C fixtures
|26 Nov||South Korea vs Uzbekistan||14:00||Riffa|
|26 Nov||Australia vs India||17:00||Riffa|
|29 Nov||Uzbekistan vs Australia||14:00||Muharraq|
|29 Nov||India vs South Korea||17:00||Muharraq|
|2 Dec||South Korea vs Australia||17:00||Riffa|
|2 Dec||India vs Uzbekistan||17:00||Isa Town|
The AFC U19 Championship will continue to be hosted by Uzbekistan from October 14 to 31, 2020. India have failed to qualify for the final round of this competition.
Whereas, centralised venues are to be used for the remaining group stage matches of the AFC Cup and the AFC Champions League. All of the group stage matches will be played in full while the knock-out rounds will now consist of single match ties (rather than home & away), as will the final of both competitions.
India's lone representative happens to be Chennai City FC in the AFC Cup. They are drawn in Group E alongside Basundhara Kings (Bangladesh), TC Sports Club, and Maziya Sports and Recreation Club (both from Maldives). All the remaining group stage matches will be held in Maldives and the Lions will resume their campaign on October 23 against TC Sports Club. However, the team have a very tough task ahead of them to prepare themselves for the rest of the group stages, given the Covid-19 situation in India.
🔥 #MatchdayUpdate— #AFCCup2020 (@AFCCup) August 11, 2020
GroupE fixtures for the #AFCCup2020 ⬇️
The group is set to resume play at the National Stadium, Male 🇲🇻🏟 on 23.10.2020 as, @MaziyaSr 🇲🇻 take on #BashundharaKings 🇧🇩 & @Tcneverdies 🇲🇻 go head to head against @ChennaiCityFC 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/KoO039hPov
The winner of the group will be crowned South Zonal champions and will qualify for the Inter-Zone semi-finals which will take place on November 24 and 25, 2020. The venue of the single-leg ASEAN Zonal semi-finals and final will be confirmed after the AFC Cup 2020 knockout stage draw on August 27, 2020, at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, Qatar has been confirmed as the centralised venue host for the ACL group and knock-out stage matches in the West region (A, B, C & D). While Malaysia will host the East Zone groups (G &H) from October 17 to November 1, 2020. Venues for Groups E and F as well as the remaining knockout stage matches and the final are yet to be confirmed.
As far as the World Cup qualifiers are concerned the apex governing body had no choice but to postpone the matches, reportedly due to many member associations unwilling to do play the remaining fixtures in a single venue as that would prevent them from making the most of their home advantage.