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Asian Football Confederation delays 2027 Asian Cup bid process

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Nations considering bids to host the 2027 Asian Cup have been given an extra three months to lodge expressions of interest due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Asian Football Confederation said on Thursday.

The AFC had hoped to announce the tournament hosts as soon as possible to give them more time to prepare for the quadrennial continental championship, which was expanded to 24 teams for the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates.

In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the AFC has decided to extend the deadline for expressions of interest from March 31 to June 30.

"The decision was taken in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic to allow member associations, many of whom have been affected by the global outbreak, sufficient time to meet their internal processes and timelines," the AFC said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, who have won the continental title three times but never hosted the tournament, are the only nation to have publicly announced their intention to launch a bid for 2027.

The next Asian Cup in 2023 will be staged in 10 cities in China, the second time the East Asian nation has hosted the tournament after 2004.