Stage set for 2020 AFC Champions League (East) in Doha
The exciting race to join the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis FC in the 2020 AFC Champions League final on December 19 will kick-off on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar as Asia’s top clubs from the East Zone restart their eagerly anticipated Group Stage campaigns.
Similar to the AFC Champions League (West), which was successfully staged last month, players and officials will be placed under strict health regulations and measures as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The action begins in Group F at 1 pm (Doha time) with AFC Champions League debutants and 2018/2019 A-League Premiers Perth Glory facing China PR’s Shanghai Shenhua FC who will be setting their sights on an opening victory.
Along with fellow Chinese clubs Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG FC, the three clubs are the only sides who have yet to feature in this season’s AFC Champions League Group Stage.
Shanghai Shenhua FC will have a busy stretch of matches soon after as they meet 2012 champions Ulsan Hyundai FC of Korea Republic and group leaders FC Tokyo.
In Group E, two-time AFC Champions League runners-up FC Seoul play against Beijing FC on Saturday as both teams are currently tied on three points alongside Melbourne Victory who face Beijing FC on November 24.
On Sunday, Korea Republic’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings will be looking to revive their hopes of qualifying to the Round of 16 when they face 2013 and 2015 champions Guangzhou Evergrande FC, who meet Group G leaders Vissel Kobe from Japan three days later.
Group H promises to be an exciting battle as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC from Korea Republic are bidding for the treble following a successful season in the domestic league. They play Shanghai SIPG FC on Sunday after the Chinese side take on Sydney FC earlier on Thursday.
The group leaders Yokohama F. Marinos from Japan are only in action on November 25 where they play Shanghai SIPG FC.
To ensure the safety of everyone involved in the AFC Champions League, players and officials were required to undergo COVID-19 testing before their departure from their respective countries and again upon their arrival in Qatar while subsequent tests will be conducted every three to six days.
All players and officials will also be put under a bio-secure bubble which limits their movement only to the hotel, stadium and training sites.
Like the AFC Champions League (West), the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system will also be implemented in the 2020 AFC Champions League (East) from the Quarter-final stage.
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