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Asian Cup qualifiers final round to held in round-robin format

Asian Cup qualifiers final round to held in round-robin format

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - AFC Champions League Final - Persepolis v Ulsan Hyundai FC - Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar - December 19, 2020 UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, Asian Football Confederation president Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa and FIFA president Gianni Infantino in the stands during the match REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

The final round of qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup will be changed from the home and away format to single round-robin ties and played in centralised venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Football Confederation said on Wednesday.

The Asian Cup, the continental governing body's flagship men's tournament, is set to be held in China from June 16 to July 16 in 2023.

"The decision was taken by the AFC Executive Committee after taking into consideration the existing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, while prioritising the safety and wellbeing of all stakeholders...," the AFC said in a statement.

The AFC said that the final round will be held on June 8, June 11 and June 14 next year, with the governing body opening the bidding process in due course to countries interested in hosting those games.

"The new match schedule may be amended where necessary pursuant to relevant provisions of the competition regulations," the AFC added.

The 2023 Asian Cup will feature 24 teams, with Qatar as the defending champions after they won their maiden title in the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: Reuters

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