Indian Football: AIFF to choose participants in AFC club competitions for 2023-24
AIFF will see two seasons (2021-22, 2022-23) getting completed before the 2023-24 season of the AFC club competitions, which will be held in August-May instead of the existing February-November window.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Friday announced a groundbreaking change in their calendar for the continental club competitions including AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup. The Executive Committee of the Asian footballing body has decided to shift the season from the existing February-November to August-May.
"The landmark reforms will see the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup transit from its current Spring-Autumn season to Autumn-Spring, with both competitions set to be organized across dual calendar years beginning from the 2023-24 season," the statement says.
Owing to this transition AFC members associations including India, whose domestic competitions run from Autumn - Spring have landed in front of a new question. As these member associations will see two seasons (2021-22, 2022-23) getting completed before the 2023-24 season of the AFC Club Competitions scheduled to start from August 2023. And one domestic season of each and every member association needs to be forfeited.
The Bridge Football has come to learn that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been asked by the AFC to decide whom they recommend for the continental spots reserved for Indian sides at the 2023-24 continental club competitions. Sources close to the development confirmed that the AIFF is soon to take a unanimous decision on this after holding a meeting with all its stakeholders including the I-league and the ISL sides.
Currently, Hyderabad FC, Jamshedpur FC, ATK Mohun Bagan, Kerala Blasters, and Mumbai City FC are on the race to secure a playoffs berth in the ongoing ISL 2021-22 season. Whereas the I-League is set to resume from March at Kolkata after initial suspension due to the COVID outbreak.
This year ISL 2020-21 league winners Mumbai City FC, runners-up ATK Mohun Bagan and I-League winners Gokulam Kerala will represent India on the continental stage starting from later this year. Owing to the post-pandemic situations and the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, AFC has already scheduled the finals of the upcoming continental competitions in 2023. Leading the club competitions last across dual calendar years.
This dynamic enhancement by the AFC signals a new era of growth and success for the AFC club competitions. The new change in the calendar has the potential to help the Indian clubs in the future as they can take part in the continental competitions in parallel with the domestic leagues.