Chiang Rai and Ratchaburi draw tough opponents for ACL battles

Chiang Rai and Ratchaburi draw tough opponents for ACL battles

Chiang Rai United celebrate with the Thai League 1 trophy in 2019.
Chiang Rai United celebrate with the Thai League 1 trophy in 2019.

Thai League 1 clubs Chiang Rai United and Ratchaburi have been handed tough assignments for the play-off stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League.

A draw was conducted by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Saturday which saw Chiang Rai line up a clash with South Korean side Daegu while Ratchaburi got Pohang Steelers, also from the same country.

Both matches will be played on April 14.

Two other Thai teams -- current Thai League 1 leaders BG Pathum United and second-placed Port -- have earned automatic places in the group stage of the premier Asian club competition.

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) secretary-general Patit Supaphong said yesterday that Pathum would be placed in Pot 1 with Port being in Pot 2 for the group stage draw which will be staged on Jan 27 at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

If Chiang Rai and Ratchaburi could qualify for the group stage of the tournament, they would be placed as the fourth team in groups which do not have either Pathum or Port because clubs from the same country cannot be in the same pool.

Strict measures

The Club World Cup will be staged with strict measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, the Qatari organisers said on Saturday less than two weeks before the tournament which will be closed to overseas fans.

It is due to get underway on Feb 4 with spectator numbers capped at 30 percent of capacity at each of the two 40,000-seat grounds which will host games.

"Fans will have to undergo rapid PCR or antigen tests up to 72 hours before each match. If it comes out negative they are allowed to receive their ticket," said Abdulwahab al-Musleh, sports affairs adviser to Qatar's health ministry.

Social distancing, mask wearing and use of Qatar's contract tracing app and sanitiser will be mandatory, he added, during a media briefing in Doha.

International fans will be unable to attend because of Qatar's virus mitigation measures, and there will be no public events.

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