2021 AFC Cup groups revealed

The groups for the 2021 AFC Cup have been revealed at a group stage draw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After the 2020 AFC Cup was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 edition is set to begin with preliminary stage and play-off matches in April and May.

Group stage matches are then scheduled to kick off on May 14 – while the final of the tournament will be played on November 26.

“The 2021 AFC Cup Group Stage will see 39 clubs competing – an increase of three from 2019 – with a newly-introduced Group for the Central Zone,” the AFC said.

“This edition will also award the winning team a place in the preliminary stage of the 2022 AFC Champions League.”

Group A (West Zone) features 2019 AFC Cup Champions Al Ahed FC from Lebanon alongside Al Hidd from Bahrain, Al Wahda from Syria and Al Nasr of Oman.

Jordan’s Al Salt, Palestine’s Balata Center, Lebanon’s Al Ansar and Jordan’s Muharraq make up Group B (West Zone).

Group C (West Zone) includes Tishreen from Syria, Al Seeb of Oman, Al Faisaly from Jordan and a play-off winner.

Group D (South Zone) is made up of ATK Mohun Bagan of India, Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings, Maziya S&RC of the Maldives and a winner from the play-offs.

Tajikistan’s Ravshan, FC Dordoi of Kyrgyz Republic and Ahal FC of Turkmenistan are in Group E (Central Zone).

The second central zone group, Group F, features FC AGMK or FC Nasaf from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan’s Altyn Aysr, FC Khujand of Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic’s FC Alay.

Group G (ASEAN Zone) comprises of Hanoi FC of Vietnam, Indonesia’s Bali United, Boeung Ket of Cambodia plus a play-off winner.

Malaysia’s Kedah Darul Aman, Lion City Sailors of Singapore, Vietnam’s Saigon FC and a play-off winner will be placed into Group H (ASEAN Zone).

The third ASEAN Zone – Group I, features Kaya FC-Iloilo of the Philippines, Myanmar’s Shan United or Ayeyawady United, Terengganu FC of Malaysia and Geylang International FC of Singapore.

Eastern Long Lions of Hong Kong, Tainan City of Chinese Taipei, Mongolia’s Athletic 220 and Hong Kong’s Lee Man will play against each in Group J (East Zone).

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Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Federal Budget commits $97 million investment for sport programs

The 2024-25 Federal Budget, which was released on Tuesday night, includes more than $97 million over two years to the ASC to extend Sporting Schools, the Local Sporting Champions, and Local Para Champions programs, and participation funding to help more Australians get active.

This two-year extension runs until 30 June 2026 and helps kids of all different sports afford an opportunity to play at a local level if they come from and under privileged background.

Football Australia is a part of the Sporting Schools program, with each state offering participation Officers and local clubs that are ready to implement in-school and after-school programs for students of ages up to Year 8, plus all abilities programs.

Football Australia use this program to link local football clubs with schools to facilitate an ongoing relationship and provide further opportunity for students to continue their football journey outside of school, whether that be MiniRoos Kick Off, MiniRoos Club or Junior Football.

More than 24,000 young Australians will be supported with the Local Sporting Champions (LSC) and Local Para Champions (LSP) grants programs continuing for a further two years.

These are fantastic programs that have supported Australia’s best athletes including many Matildas like Courtney Nevin, Cortnee Vine, Alex Chidiac, Teagan Micah and Clare Hunt.

World Cup veteran’s Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter also rose to success with assistance from the LSC program throughout their junior careers.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins OAM mentions the importance of this investment to continue critical national sporting programs.

“Once again, I want to thank Minister Wells and the Australian Government for their continued support and investment in Australian sport,” Perkins said in a statement.

“This funding extends critical sport participation programs like the Participation Grant program and Sporting Schools which provides free and fun sporting opportunities to more than two million students each year.

“This follows last week’s announcement of $249.7 million to upgrade the AIS Campus to ensure our athletes have access to the world’s best testing and training facilities, and accommodation ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

This is a fantastic initiative that will benefit football amongst other sports and has a history of helping kids of all skill levels play in their respective sport.

The Federal Budget have put in almost $350 to improve sport, mostly around the 2032 Olympic Games but it is great to see some investment in the world game after the huge success of the Women’s World Cup last year.

The biggest Female Football Week to date draws to a close

Female Football week is at its climax across the country with each respective state firmly involved in what has been a monumental year of growth and perseverance with one of the hottest topics amongst the sporting plethora across the nation.

Symbolising the significant strides in which female football has made down under, off the back of its maiden World Cup hosting tenure.

Football Queensland throughout the grand occasion were busy shining a spotlight upon the continuous growth of participation, encouraging women of all ages to become involved and immersed within the global game.

Football Victoria – Commentary

Football Victoria (FV) celebrated women’s football week in style.

Round 8 of the National Premier League Women’s (NPLW) competition within Victoria was unique throughout its coverage, with every match throughout the round featuring a female commentator.

A monumental feat spearheaded by the FV Commentary team, this was the first time an all female commentary round was executed.

Football Queensland

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci disclosed his appreciation for the momentous occasion via the FQ website.

“While celebrations like FFW serve as a crucial milestone in FQ’s journey towards achieving 50/50 gender parity by 2027 and helps to further reinforce our commitment to enhancing accessibility and inclusivity, our support is not confined to this week, as we remain dedicated to prioritising our female football community year-round.”

Football Queensland – Award Ceremony

Paying homage to Referees, Club Volunteers, Players and Community Champions of the year was conducted through awards up for grabs.

FQ showcased an award ceremony towards multiple facets of football throughout the state.

A nice incentive dedicated to the recognition and appraisal of the hard work undertaken by different areas of football.

The Female Football Week club of the year was awarded to Central Football Club following their extraordinary contribution to female football within Queensland.

Displayed throughout the clubs commitment to female football, the club are fully dedicated to the advancement of women’s football.

Harvesting a fostering environment throughout the club, alongside the nourishment of young promising female footballers has been symbolised by FQ.

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