October 23, 2021

AFC cancels U-16 championship which was scheduled to be held in Bahrain

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The Coronavirus pandemic has forced the Asian football body to cancel its age-category tournaments…

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has cancelled the 2020 edition of the AFC U-16 and the U-19 Championships which were scheduled to be held in Bahrain and Uzbekistan.

The Asian football body reluctantly arrived at the decision to cancel the tournaments after taking into consideration the uncertainty and risks in view of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The next editions of both competitions will be allocated to the same hosts in 2023. Uzbekistan will host the AFC U-20 Asian Cup and Bahrain will host the AFC U-17 tournament. 

A couple of the participating nations had requested the apex body of football in Asia to shift the dates as they were not able to prepare for the tournament due to the worsening Coronavirus situations in their respective countries. 

The U-16 tournament was first scheduled to be held from September 16 to October 3 but was postponed to November 25 due to the pandemic. 

Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, said, “We are grateful for the support of the hosts for these competitions who agreed with the AFC the need to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders during this time of uncertainty and taking into consideration the risks of the current pandemic.”

The 2020 AFC U16 Championship will feature 16 teams – 12 of them qualified after winning their qualification groups while four best runners-up were also handed a spot.

The format for the final tournament will feature four groups of four teams each. The winner and runner-up in each group will progress to the quarter-finals.

India qualified for the 2020 AFC U-16 Championship finals in September 2019 as the table-toppers from Group B. With two wins and a draw, India managed to pick up seven points from three matches to finish above Bahrain, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan in the qualifiers held in Uzbekistan.

Before going into the AFC U-16 qualifiers, the colts also enjoyed an 11-match winning streak. They built on their performance and finished with an unbeaten record in the qualifiers and boasted a goal difference of +10. 

This was for the ninth time that India managed to qualify for the finals, having done it earlier in 1990, 1996, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2018 editions of the competition.

The top four teams of the AFC U-16 Championship finals qualify for the U-17 World Cup as representatives of the AFC.