Asian Champions League: Al Hilal kicked out after naming 11-man squad

Written By: BBC
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Defending champions Al Hilal have been kicked out of the Asian Champions League after naming only 11 players for their final group game with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai on Wednesday.

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Fifteen Al Hilal players were ruled out after positive Covid-19 tests last week and the Saudi Arabian side only named nine players in their starting line-up, plus two goalkeepers on the bench.

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The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said Al Hilal’s previous Group B results are null and void and the club are “deemed to have withdrawn”.

AFC rules state teams must name a minimum of 13 players in their matchday squads and Wednesday’s game did not go ahead.

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Both Al Hilal and the Saudi Arabia Football Federation requested a postponement owing to “exceptional circumstances” but the AFC said that would have had a “huge negative impact” on the competition schedule “and so no exception was granted”.

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Al Hilal narrowly avoided sanction when they named a squad of 14 for their penultimate match on Sunday.

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On that occasion a goalless draw against Iran’s Shahr Khodro saw them qualify for the knockout stage, but their withdrawal means Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai now advance to the last 16.

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