KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Asian Football Confederation has confirmed a revised eastern zone Champions League group and playoff schedule after three Australian clubs pulled out of the 2021 tournament amid an interrupted domestic season prolonged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sydney FC, Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar placed in the top six in the A-League regular season to qualify for the domestic playoffs, which start June 11 and are scheduled to conclude on June 26, clashing with the Champions League preliminary and playoff stages, and prompting their withdrawal from the tournament on Friday.
Brisbane was scheduled to play Kaya FC-Iloilo in the preliminary stage on June 20 and Melbourne City was due to play Cerezo Osaka on June 21.
The AFC on Sunday approved the cancellation of the match between Brisbane Roar and Kaya FC-Iloilo from the Philippines, with the latter progressing to a playoff match against Shanghai Port FC of China to secure the final spot in Group F..
“The AFC also decided to cancel the playoff match between Daegu FC and Chiangrai FC with the 2020 Thai FA Cup winners replacing Sydney FC in Group H and Daegu FC receiving a direct entry into Group I,” the AFC said in a statement Sunday.
”(The) match between Melbourne City FC and Cerezo Osaka has also been cancelled, with the Japanese side receiving a direct bye into Group J, alongside China PR’s Guangzhou FC, Kitchee SC from Hong Kong and Thailand’s Port FC.”
The Asian Champions League Groups F, G and J will take place in Bangkok and Buriram in Thailand from June 22 to July 11, 2021, while Groups H and I will be staged in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from June 25 to July 11.
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