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AFC Competitions Committee recommends changes to youth competitions

Muscat: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competitions Committee has recommended that the AFC U-16 and U-19 competitions become U-17 and U-20 competitions from 2022 to ensure Asian teams are competitive in FIFA tournaments.

At their meeting in Muscat on Monday, Oman under the chairmanship of Saoud Al Mohannadi, the committee heard a report from the AFC Technical Committee task force, which had been set up to review the AFC age-group competitions, and they recommended a unified eligibility cut-off date.

The task force felt there was a need to change the structure to aid player development. They also stressed the need for continued integrity checks as well as education for young players who will be asked to sign contracts and under-go MRI tests in line with the current practice.

The new AFC U-17 and U-20 Championships will be played in the same year as the corresponding FIFA tournaments with the qualifiers in the preceding year. The first edition of the new championship will start with qualifiers in 2022 and the finals in 2023 to give Member Associations more time for preparation.

The AFC Competitions Committee were also informed of the make-up of the Competitions Task Force chaired by Mariano Araneta Jr and comprising four members of the AFC Competitions Committee and representatives from the top 10 Leagues in Asia.

The first meeting is to be held in Muscat on Tuesday where the club competitions calendar and all matters relating to the AFC Club Competitions will be discussed and a report will be submitted to the AFC Competitions Committee.

The Committee also agreed to give whatever assistance was needed to help develop the Bahrain National League but did not support the inclusion of two Bahraini clubs in the Saudi Arabian Professional League.