Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, the defending champion, was kicked out of the AFC Champions League for failing to field enough players after it was hit by a COVID-19 outbreak.
Former MLS MVP
was among 30 Al Hilal players and staff who contracted the virus, leaving the club with just 11 players -- three of them goalkeepers -- for the match against UAE’s
Shabab Al-Ahli, two less than the minimum requirement of 13 players.
Al-Hilal, which suited up 14 players for its game against Iran's Shahr Khodro, a 0-0 tie, offered to forfeit the game
against Shabab Al-Ahli, which would have allowed it to finish in second place in Group B and advance to the round of 16.
In Group A, UAE's Al-Wahda was forced to withdraw following
several positive COVID-19 test.
The remainder of the group stage and first three rounds of the knockout stage in the West Region are being played in Qatar. The East Region will resume in
October with knockout games in December.