(Reuters) - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Saturday dismissed a protest lodged by Al Hilal against their withdrawal from the Asian Champions League because they were able to name only 11 players for their final Group B fixture.
The Saudi club, who had already qualified for the last 16, said they had been determined to defend their title despite 30 players and staff becoming infected with COVID-19 in the Qatar hub where Asia's premier club competition resumed last week.
But AFC rules state teams must name a minimum of 13 players in their matchday squads and Wednesday's game did not go ahead. The AFC ruled that Al Hilal were "deemed to have withdrawn from the competition".
Al Hilal's departure means Shabab Al Ahli Dubai progressed to the knockout stage from Group B along with Uzbeki club Pakhtakor.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)