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Saudi to host Asian Champions League final

August 20, 2021 at 10:53 am

The AFC Champions League Trophy is displayed during the AFC Champions League Final 2nd leg match at Guangzhou Tianhe Sport Center Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Guangzhou, China. [Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia will host the final of this year’s Asian Champions League on 23 November, Reuters reported the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirming today.

No venue city has been announced, but the quarter-final and semi-final matches involving teams from the west of Asia – due to be held on 16 and 19 October respectively – will also be played in the Gulf state.

Two clubs from Saudi Arabia remain involved in the competition, with former champions Al Hilal due to play Iran’s Esteghlal in the last 16 while Al Nassr will face off against Tractor, also from Iran. Both teams are based in Riyadh.

The AFC has had to alter the format of the competition because of COVID-19 travel restrictions in place in many Asian nations, with games in the knockout rounds played on a single-match basis rather than as home-and-away clashes.

Round of 16 games will be held from 13-15 September around the region, with the draw for the quarter-finals to be held on 17 September.

The quarter-final and semi-final matches for clubs from the east of the confederation will be hosted in Jeonju in South Korea on 17 and 20 October.

The kingdom, which is regularly slammed for its human rights record, has repeatedly been accused of “pouring money into the sport in an attempt to improve their image”; a practice known as “sportswashing“.

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