Saturday, 27, February, 2021

The group stages of this year's AFC Champions League, which is set to feature up to three A-League clubs, will be played in centralised hubs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The centralised eastern group stages are planned for April 21-May 7, while the western region games are scheduled between April 14-30, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Monday.

Bidding invitations and hosting details will be provided to the participating member associations after the group stage draws, which will take place on Wednesday.

Pakhtakor FC is the only Uzbke team to have secured a guaranteed spot in the group stage but it will be joined by AGMK if it makes it through the play-offs on April 7 against Al-Gharafa.

The Asian Champions League is set to feature 40 teams for the first time in 2021, expanded from 32 teams.

It will stage its two-legged final on November 21 and 27, with semi-finals in October and quarter-finals in late September.

The 2020 edition of the Asian Champions League was suspended in March due to the pandemic. All the knockout stages matches after the restart were played in Qatar, including the final at the Al Janoub Stadium.

The second-tier 2021 AFC Cup will also be played in centralised stages, kicking off in south, central and east zones on May 14 before the west zone matches begin on May 23.

2021 AFC Champions League Group Stage Draw

Group A: Al Hilal SFC (KSA), Shabab Al Ahli (UAE), FC Istiklol (TJK), QAT-UZB P/O winner
Group B: Sharjah (UAE), Tractor FC (IRN), Pakhtakor (UZB), KSA-IRQ P/O winner
Group C: Al Duhail SC (QAT), Al Ahli Saudi (KSA), Esteghlal (IRN), Al Shorta (IRQ)
Group D: Al Sadd SC (QAT), Al Nassr (KSA), Al Wehdat (JOR), IRN-UAE P/O winner
Group E: Persepolis FC (IRN), Al Rayyan (QAT), FC Goa (IND), UAE-IRQ P/O winner
Group F: Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR), BG Pathum United (THA), Viettel FC (VIE), AUS-PHI-CHN P/O winner
Group G: Jiangsu FC (CHN), Nagoya Grampus (JPN), Johor Darul Ta'zim (MAS), KOR-THA P/O winner.
Group H: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR), Gamba Osaka (JPN), Tampines Rovers (SIN), Sydney FC (AUS)
Group I: Kawasaki Frontale (JPN), Guangzhou FC CHN), United City FC (PHI), KOR-THA P/O winner
Group J: Shandong Luneng FC (CHN), Port FC (THA), Kitchee SC (HKG), JPN-AUS-MYA P/O Winner

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