The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday announced the final showpiece of the 2021 AFC Champions League (ACL) will be held on November 23 in West region.
The final was to be played through a two-legged tie on November 21 and 27, but the AFC Executive Committee was forced to change the schedule due to “existing uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing travel restrictions imposed across the continent,” according to the AFC’s official website.
The AFC agreed to open the bidding process for the final to the participating member associations from the West Zone.
The Asian football’s governing body also confirmed that knockout stages of the Asian elite clubs’ competition – from the quarterfinals onwards – will be decided in single-legged fixtures, held in a centralized venue for the East and West regions respectively.
Both last-eight and semifinal rounds will be concluded in the space of five days – October 16-20.
Iran will be represented by three Persian Gulf Pro League sides in the round of 16 of the competition in September.
Esteghlal and Tractor will square off against Saudi sides Al Hilal and Al Nassr respectively, with Persepolis – runners-up in 2018 and 2020 – playing away to Istiklol Tajikistan, the surprise package at this year’s tournament.
The Saudi-based news channel, Al Arabiya, quoting the AFC spokesman Nidal Bahran, reported in June that “Esteghlal and Al Nassr have been given until July 7 by the AFC to name a neutral venue for their last-16 round ties.”
The two sides had been picked as the hosts of the fixtures.
Political tensions between the two Persian Gulf states had seen Iranian and Saudi clubs going head-to-head in neutral venues since 2016, before Esteghlal and Foolad Khuzestan flew to Saudi Arabia in April to play their centralized group fixtures of the competition.