Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Al Wahda withdrawn from Asian Champions League

Abu Dhabi side failed to arrive in Doha for group stage after several members of club tested positive for Covid-19

Al Wahda's Tahnoon Alzaabi after their Asian Champions League quarter-final defeat to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr last season. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Al Wahda's Tahnoon Alzaabi after their Asian Champions League quarter-final defeat to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr last season. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Al Wahda have been withdrawn from the Asian Champions League because they failed to arrive in Doha for the resumption of the group stage after several members of the club tested positive for Covid-19.

The Abu Dhabi side, slated to restart their Group A campaign on Monday, had been placed in a 14-day quarantine at home and therefore could not travel to the Qatari capital last week.

The revised tournament was postponed in March because of the coronavirus outbreak, with the remaining group fixtures – four match days – in the western side of the competition to take place this month.

In a statement on Monday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said: “The AFC decided that the circumstances surrounding the club’s failure to arrive constituted an event of Force Majeure and that the matches played by Al Wahda in the AFC Champions League (West) shall be considered ‘null and void’.

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UAE-based players to watch in ACL

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“For the avoidance of doubt, no points or goals from the previous matches will be considered in determining the final group rankings.”

All teams were told to arrive in Doha a minimum of four days before their first match. Wahda were slated to play Iran’s Esteghlal on Monday before rounding off the group with games on Thursday, Sunday and September 23. Before their withdrawal, they sat second in the pool, behind leading Al Ahli Jeddah on the head-to-head rule.

Asked by The National for a comment on the AFC’s decision, Wahda said they would issue an official statement in due course. The UAE Football Association had last week asked the AFC to postpone the club’s Group A matches, however the request was rejected.

There has been a number of positive Covid-19 cases reported since teams arrived in Doha, with seven confirmed at the weekend, including six from reigning Asian champions Al Hilal. All teams are to be tested regularly during the tournament.

Meanwhile, the East Zone group stage, originally scheduled to resume in mid-October in Malaysia, was last week pushed back until November 15-December 13.

Updated: September 14, 2020 06:05 PM

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