Asia football body axes tournaments, centralises Champions League groups

Asia's football body cancelled several tournaments and announced centralised group stages for the Champions League and AFC Cup club tournaments on Monday, as it continues to battle coronavirus disruption.

The Asian Football Confederation cancelled its U16 and U19 championships in Bahrain and Uzbekistan respectively, along with the regional futsal tournament in Bahrain and beach soccer cup in Thailand.

The events were axed "taking into consideration the uncertainty and risks in view of the current pandemic", a statement said.

The newly expanded, 40-team Champions League, which took place in "bubble" conditions in Qatar last year, will stage group games in one West Asian and one East Asian hub from mid-April, the AFC added.

The round-of-16 and quarter-final matches will be played on September 13-15 and September 27-29 as single matches. The two-legged semi-finals are on October 19-20 and 26-27, while the final, also a double-header, is on November 21 and 27.

Meanwhile, the group phase of the second-tier AFC Cup will take place in five regional hubs starting from mid-May.

No venues were announced for the games, with bids accepted after the draw for the Champions League and AFC Cup group stage on Wednesday.