The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is planning to resume the AFC Cup from late September or early October and playing all remaining matches at a single venue, officials said after an online meeting between the AFC Competition Division and representatives from the four clubs that make up Group E of the tournament as well as three member associations -- Bangladesh, India and Maldives.
On March 9, the AFC had issued a letter to its member associations to consider suspending fixtures of the AFC Cup as well as the World Cup and Asia Cup Qualifiers following travel bans due to the coronavirus pandemic. In light of that, the Bangladesh Football Federation suspended all fixtures in March and June.
However, Bashundhara Kings still went ahead and hosted TC Sports Club of Maldives at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on March 11, thrashing them 5-1. They currently top Group E with three points, followed by Maziya SRC of Maldives and Chennai FC of India, who have one point each. TC Sports are bottom with no points.
The domestic seasons in Bangladesh and India were called off due to the pandemic and the Maldivian league was completed beforehand, leaving teams struggling to retain services of players.
"Some proposals were presented to complete the rest of the AFC Cup but no concrete decisions were taken. The Competition Division discussed three points while clubs gave their opinions," BFF Competition manager Zaher Bin Taher Ansari told The Daily Star after attending the meeting yesterday.
"Participating teams were informed that they are planning to restart the AFC Cup in the third week of September or in October, with all remaining matches taking place in a single venue. The Competition Division gave their nod to the clubs' demand of a new registration window as clubs either released their players following the cancelation of leagues or the players' contracts expired," Ansari added.
"The Competition Division proposed playing at a centralised/neutral venue and all four clubs agreed," Ansari said, adding that they did not specify a venue.
"We were also informed that new rules and regulations would be introduced for the 2021 AFC Cup. There may be some relaxation following an incomplete season."
The details of the AFC Cup are to be ironed out within this month so that each club gets time to prepare and sign new players for the remaining matches.
"The matches have to be completed within 13 days because it will be tough to play home-and-away matches while maintaining the guidelines of 14-day quarantine periods. It will take too much time," Bashundhara Kings president Imrul Hasan said.