CITING the continuing spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) moved to postpone until further notice matches set for May and June.

In an announcement released on Tuesday, the AFC said it was extending the postponement of competitions under its supervision with the COVID-19 pandemic still a growing concern.

Affected matches included those in the AFC Cup 2020 Group Stage matches of Philippines Football League (PFL) clubs Ceres-Negros FC and Kaya FC-Iloilo FC set for May.

Also postponed to a later date were those of the Philippine national men’s football team in their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022/AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 bid set for June 4 (against China) and June 9 (Maldives).

Last month the AFC postponed matches set for March and April as it wanted to ensure the safety of all stakeholders and fans as the COVID-19 pandemic took further root in the region.

The leader in Group G, three-time PFL champion Ceres (2-1-0) was set to take on Than Quang Ninh of Vietnam (1-1-1) on May 13.

The “Busmen” won their last match in convincing fashion, defeating Indonesia’s Bali United FC, 4-0, in a match played behind closed doors at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium because of COVID-19 on March 11.

Kaya, meanwhile, was bracing for an all-important Group H match against group-pacing Tampines Rovers of Singapore on May 12.

The Iloilo-based team is currently second in its grouping with a 1-2-0 record and five points, two behind Tampines (2-1-0).

It drew, 1-1, with PSM Makassar of Indonesia in its last game on March 10.

Meanwhile, the extension of postponement of competitions by the AFC pushed the Azkals’ inaction longer.

The last time the Azkals played in the qualifiers was against Syria in November last year where it lost, 1-0. They were supposed to face Guam on March 26, China (June 4) and Maldives (June 9); games that are now to be played on still-to-be-determined dates.

The Azkals are currently in third spot in Group A of the joint qualifiers with seven points built on a 2-1-2 record.

Syria (5-0-0) is on top of the heap with 15 points, followed by China (2-1-1) with seven.

Maldives (2-0-3) is fourth with six points while Guam (0-0-5) has no points and is already eliminated in the race.

The top teams in the groupings in round two advance to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers and earn a spot in the Asian Cup.

The AFC said it will continue to coordinate and consult with Member Associations on all possible options for the continuation of all competitions in due course. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo