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Latest update on the AFC Club Competitions in 2021 and 2022

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)

The AFC Executive Committee has approved today the AFC Competitions Committee’s recommendation to reschedule all Knockout Stage matches of the AFC Cup 2021 and AFC Champions League 2021 (from the Quarter Finals onwards) from its current home and away format to single leg ties.

Taking into consideration the existing uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing travel restrictions imposed across the Continent, the AFC Executive Committee agreed that it was essential to minimise the travel frequency of the participating clubs, while underlining its continued commitment towards ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all players, teams, officials and key stakeholders.

The AFC Executive Committee also approved the proposal for the AFC Champions League Quarter Finals and Semi Finals to be played in one centralised venue for the East and West Region respectively and agreed to open the bidding process for the AFC Champions League 2021 single-leg Final, which has been rescheduled to be held on November 23 (from the two-legged Final on 21 and 27 November 2021), to the Participating Member Associations (PMAs) from the West Region.

The AFC Executive Committee also noted the impact caused by the evolving nature of the pandemic on the AFC Cup 2021 and the challenges faced, despite the best efforts of all stakeholders, in finalising the centralised hosts for the Group Stage.

Therefore, in anticipation of further challenges and to enable the AFC to adapt and act swiftly in fulfilling its commitment to complete the AFC Cup 2021, the AFC Executive Committee agreed to maintain the overall structure of the competition, giving due consideration to the existing format in each Zone.

It was decided that the competition will continue with the remaining matches and groups as much as possible, while at the same time, the matches across all stages which cannot be played due to matters arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be cancelled and that such cancellations will be recognised as an event of Force Majeure.

In addition, the AFC Executive Committee also approved the new club competitions calendar for the 2022 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup seasons.

Keeping in mind the continued risks and uncertainty of the pandemic and to ensure Participating Clubs are given sufficient preparation time, it was decided that the 2022 season will draw on the extensive experience of the successful and safe staging of the 2020 club competition season as well as the ongoing 2021 edition.

Therefore, the 2022 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup seasons will continue to be played in centralised venues, with the Knockout Stages also following the single-leg format of the current edition of both club competitions.

In light of the changes of the respective match schedules and formats, the AFC has also revised the calculation method for the AFC Club Competitions Rankings 2021 and 2022.

The new match schedules for the 2021 and 2022 editions of the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup are as follows:

AFC Champions League 2021*
Matches NEW Dates
QF** West Centralised single leg match
QF: 16 October 2021
SF: 19 October 2021
QF: 17 October 2021
SF: 20 October 2021
SF1** West
SF2** West
F1 Cancelled
F2*** 23 November 2021

* There will be no change to the Round of 16 matches.
** The Quarter-final and Semi-final matches (West & East) will be played in one (1) centralised venue as a single leg match.
*** The Final match will be hosted in the West.

AFC Cup 2021*
Matches NEW Dates
West ZSF1 Cancelled
West ZSF2** 20 – 21 September 2021***
West ZF1 Cancelled
West ZF2** 20 October 2021
Central ZF1 Cancelled
Central ZF2** 25 August 2021 – maintained as a single leg match
IZSF1 Cancelled
IZSF2** 21 – 22 September 2021
IZF1 Cancelled
IZF2** 20 October 2021
F** 5 November 2021

*There will be no change to the ASEAN Zonal Semi Final (ZSF) and Zonal Final (ZF) matches.
** The West ZSF & ZF, Central ZF, Inter-Zone SF (IZSF) & IZF matches will be changed to single leg matches; The ZSF will be hosted by the original host of the second leg match in accordance with the draw mechanism prior to the Competition; The hosts of ZFs, IZSF & IZF shall be determined based on the Knockout Stage draw; The Final match will be hosted by the Participating Club from the West.

AFC Champions League 2022
Matches NEW Dates
PS1 West: 15 March 2022
East: 1 March 2022
PS2 West: 5 April 2022
East: 8 March 2022
PO West: 20 April 2022
East: 15 March 2022
Group Stage 6 MDs; Centralised H&A format
West: 10-26 May 2022
East: 15 April – 1 May 2022
R16-1 Cancelled
R16-2 29-31 August 2022
QF1 Cancelled
QF2 12-14 September 2022
SF1 Cancelled
SF2 11-12 October 2022
F1 Cancelled
F2 29 October 2020 – maintained as a single leg match to be played in the East


AFC Cup 2022
Match NEW Date
PS West & South:
5 April 2022
ASEAN, Central & East:
12 April 2022
PO West & South:
19 April 2022
ASEAN, Central & East:
17 May 2022
Group Stage 3 MDs; Centralised Round-Robin format
West & South:
18-24 May 2022
ASEAN, Central & East:
24-30 June 2022
West ZSF1 Cancelled
West ZSF2 5-6 September 2022
West ZF1 Cancelled
West ZF2 4 October 2022
ASEAN ZSF 9-10 August 2022
ASEAN ZF 23-24 August 2022
Central & South ZF (if applicable) 16-17 August 2022
IZSF1 Cancelled
IZSF2 6-7 September 2022
IZF1 Cancelled
IZF2 5 October 2022
F 22 October 2022