Soccer-China's Changchun withdraw from Asian Champions League

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese Super League side Changchun Yatai have withdrawn from this year's Asian Champions League, the Asian Football Confederation said on Tuesday.

Changchun qualified for the continental club championship by finishing fourth in last year's CSL and had been due to play the winners of the preliminary round meeting between Sydney FC and Kaya FC Iloilo from the Philippines.

The AFC did not provide a reason for the withdrawal.

The decision means the winners of the playoff on March 8 will advance directly to the group phase, where they will face Jeonbuk Hyundai from South Korea, Japan's Yokohama F Marinos and Hoang Anh Gia Lai from Vietnam in Group H.

Matches in the eastern half of the Asian Champions League's group phase are scheduled to begin on April 15, with each of the five groups to be played in biosecure centralised venues in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Venues for the five centralised groups on the western side of the continent, which are due to kick off on April 7, have yet to be confirmed.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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