Omani clubs withdraw from 2021 AFC Cup, opening door for Al-Am’ary to qualify directly.

In yet another COVID-19 related snag, the Oman Football Association (OFA) has been forced to pull out of the AFC Cup in compliance with rules aimed to curb the spread of the virus. Oman is in the midst of a second wave with the 7-day new case average over 1,000.

With all sporting activities banned from April 10th to September 30th, the Omantel Premier League has been cancelled and the OFA made the difficult decision to withdraw both Al-Seeb and Al-Nassr from the competition.

The withdrawal of the Omani clubs and the cancellation of the league season means a premature end to Michel Termanini’s excellent season. The Palestine national team defender had moved to Al-Nassr in January and had become the focal point of the second best defence in the league.

The fall out does not end there for Palestine. As reported earlier, Al-Am’ary had already lost the right to host their playoff match versus Al-Kuwait after Jibril Rajoub acquiesced to Kuwait’s request to move the match. This marked a departure from previous policy as the PFA had only ever surrendered home matches after intervention and arbitration from the Asian Football Confederation forced them to.

At the time of writing, there has been no official statement from the AFC regarding the withdrawal of the Omani clubs. Even if Al-Am’ary and Al-Kuwait were placed directly into the group stage; the AFC would still need to draft a 12th team to round out the field of teams from the western region.

Jordan, who has the highest co-efficient of the participating nations in the western region would most likely be given the right to enter an additional team. That said, the Jordanian Pro League was forced to enter 4th placed and 5th placed Al-Faisaly and Al-Salt after Al-Jazeera and Al-Ramatha failed to receive continental licenses due to outstanding debts.

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