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AFC matches involving Chinese teams postponed to April, May due to virus scare

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: AFC Champions League football fixtures featuring Chinese clubs will be delayed to April and May, officials said Tuesday, after Australia imposed travel restrictions over the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The games featuring Chinese clubs had been scheduled to be played in Perth and Sydney in February and March but were thrown into turmoil following the new curbs.

After an emergency meeting Tuesday in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, the Asian Football Confederation said the games will now be played in April and May.

“We came together in difficult circumstances to find solutions to allow us to play football while ensuring we protect the safety and security of all players, officials, stakeholders and fans," AFC secretary-general Windsor John said in a statement.

John said representatives of the six member associations involved — Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand — agreed to postpone matches involving Chinese clubs that will take place in the first three match days.

Among the matches to be re-arranged Japan's Vissel Kobe, the club of former Barcelona great Andres Iniesta, will play China's Guangzhou Evergrande on May 26.

In selected other games, Perth Glory will now face Shanghai Shenhua on April 28, Sydney FC will play Shanghai SIPG on April 29 while Melbourne Victory will play Beijing FC on May 26.

However, Thai side Chiangrai United’s match with Beijing will go ahead as originally planned on February 18 since Beijing are currently in a training camp in South Korea and may not to be put in quarantine.

The East Zone Round of 16 matches are scheduled for June 16-17 with the return leg on June 23-24.

Australian officials have confirmed 12 cases of coronavirus in the country so far and last week barred the entry of non-Australian citizens arriving from China.

The virus has infected more than 20,000 people and killed some 425 in China, the epicentre of the outbreak. It has spread to more than 24 countries.

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