Adelaide United celebrate their 2019 FFA Cup win Source: Getty Images
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Liga Champions AFC 2021 akan menjadi edisi ke 40 dari turnamen utama klub Asia yang diselenggarakan oleh Konfederasi Sepak Bola Asia (AFC), dan yang ke 19 dengan title Liga Champions AFC. Turnamen ini akan menjadi yang pertama yang melibatkan 40 tim selama babak penyisihan grup, dengan peningkatan dari 32 tim dari edisi sebelumnya. The AFC Champions League (abbreviated as ACL) is an annual continental club football competition organised by the Asian Football Confederation.Introduced in 2002, the competition is a continuation of the Asian Club Championship which had started in 1967. A total of 40 clubs compete in the round robin group stage of the competition. 1 day ago JDT dominated again in Malaysia while Hanoi slipped in V.League 1. Johor Darul Ta'zim was barred from competing in the AFC Champions League this season but will get their shot in 2021. 2021/2022 AFC Champions League Slot Allocations. 2021/2022 AFC Champions League Slot Allocations. Other A-League clubs would do anything to be in the ACL, unlike Sydney who take it for granted (earlier this week with Barbarouses missing those.
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The FFA have announced significant changes to the FFA Cup for 2021, as the competition prepares to return after being cancelled this year due to COVID-19.
The Cup final is set to be played at a neutral venue from next year onwards and will take place on a stand-alone weekend, along with the semi-finals in an effort by the FFA to give the tournament a more established place on the Australian sporting calendar.
In addition, the champions of next year's competition will secure one of Australia's preliminary round slots in the AFC Champions League, giving clubs outside the A-League a fighting chance to compete with Asia's best if successful on home turf.
The 2021 edition of the Cup will also have an open draw for the first time, doing away with the fixed draw model of the past.
FFA CEO James Johnson said the changes are set to give the competition a new edge and allow for more recognition of its value in the Australian sporting community.
'The FFA Cup is unique amongst all other sporting competitions in Australia in that a team of builders, electricians and office-workers might get the chance to compete against five-time A-League Champions Sydney FC,” Johnson said.
“These changes to the FFA Cup from 2021 onwards demonstrate FFA’s commitment to not only enhancing the FFA Cup for the enjoyment of our football community, but to provide players and clubs at all levels of the game with the opportunity to aspire to represent Australia on the global stage.
“Playing the FFA Cup Final on a stand-alone weekend will enable the FFA Cup Final to develop its own identity within the national football calendar, and we envisage that an array of events – such as a national football conference or a national football weekend festival – can in the future be held in parallel with the FFA Cup Final.
'Furthermore, we believe that by connecting the FFA Cup Final with a variety of supporting football-focused events, we can engage a wide cross-section of the football community and make the event an increasingly attractive proposition to host cities and governments.”
Johnson also revealed a revised structure to the Round of 32 draw and format for 2021 in a move to increase the Cup's competitiveness.
“Next year’s FFA Cup Preliminary Rounds will be held much like in years gone by, however we are moving to adjust the structure of the Round of 32 – where professional A-League clubs enter the competition – into four geographic Zones,' he said.
'These Zones will promote local rivalries and competitive tension, and for the first time will feature an open draw to determine matches. The open draw will continue to feature right through to the semi-final stage, ensuring that there’s absolute uncertainty when the draw for each round of the competition is staged.”
The FFA also announced it would conduct consultation surrounding the potential renaming of the competition as the company continues to transition to it's new name of 'Football Australia'.
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Indian clubs are set to get an additional slot in AFC competitions in 2021, possibly with a direct entry into the AFC Champions League (ACL) group stages. It would be the first time an Indian team would feature in Asia's elite club competition in more than 30 years -- Goa-based Salgaocar were the last team to feature in group games of the erstwhile Asian Club Championship in 1990-91.
This would mean apart from the one slot for the ACL, India would get two slots for the AFC Cup.
As of now, two Indian clubs qualify for Asian club competitions -- the I-League champions Chennai City FC will feature in the ACL preliminary rounds in January 2020, while BFC enter the AFC Cup from the playoff stages a month later. With the ISL elevated to India's top division, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had swapped the competitions for the two league winners for the season to follow, with a further clarification that the ISL regular season group topper would make the ACL, and not the winner of the final.
Interestingly, the AFC has also decided that the winner of the AFC Cup would get an ACL playoff slot for the following season.
These decisions weres taken during AFC competitions committee's meeting in Tokyo on Saturday.
Here's a simple deconstruction of what it means for Indian football.
Where does the extra slot fit in?
India have an extra AFC Cup slot now from 2021, with a playoff slot retained by the I-League winners, and one undetermined slot now confirmed for AFC Cup's group stages.
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The ISL group stage winners will be incorporated into the ACL, but as of now, ESPN understands they are only assured of a playoff slot, though India's performance and rankings in 2020 could help convert that into a group stage entry.
AFC have also increased the number of teams in the ACL group stages from 32 to 40, with countries like Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore now getting a chance to enter the group stages of the ACL alongside India.
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How do the Indian performances in 2020 influence their rankings?
AFC has a simple system of awarding points for member associations -- a 90 percent weightage for each result in AFC competitions, and 10 percent for their national team's performances in the FIFA world rankings.
India have dropped from 13th to 15th in the club rankings for 2019, with both Minerva Punjab and Chennaiyin failing to advance beyond the AFC Cup group stages this year, and the national team also having won just two matches the whole year.
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What else remains to be decided?
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If India's club and national team performances can string together some wins, then the ISL champions will have a chance of competing with Asia's elite. What will also be of interest will be who gets the second AFC Cup slot -- do the AIFF give that to the ISL final winners? Or do they incentivise the Super Cup for I-League clubs and ISL teams alike by leaving one slot open for the winners of the knockout competition?