• Kyodo

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Two clubs from Thailand and two from Indonesia have been disqualified from the 2006 Asian Champions League for failing to adhere to player registration regulations, the Asian Football Confederation said Friday.

Provincial Electricity Authority and Thailand Tobacco Monopoly and Indonesian clubs Arema Malang and Persipura Jayapura failed to submit their official player registration forms by the deadline of midnight Feb. 12.

The decision gave J. League second division club Tokyo Verdy’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals a boost as the AFC have decided that, despite the disqualification of the four clubs, the format of the competition should stay the same and Group F and Group G will consequently contain only two teams.

Verdy, the 2004 Emperor’s Cup winners, and South Korea’s Ulsang Horang-I are left in Group F after the exit of Arema Malang and Tobacco Monopoly. They will play in Tokyo on March 8 and in South Korea on May 3.

Shanghai Shenhua of China and Dong Tam Long An of Vietnam will be fighting for the group honors in Group G.

“It is essential that clubs comply with the regulations that govern AFC competitions, and failing to meet a registration deadline represents a serious breach of these regulations,” said AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam.

“The AFC Champions League is Asia’s premier club competition and we simply cannot have clubs in this flagship event who show such disregard for the regulations. Clubs who pay little attention to such basic administrative matters have no place in the continent’s premier club competition,” he said.

J. League champions Gamba Osaka are in Group E with Chonbuk Motors of South Korea, Vietnamese side Da Nang and China’s Dalian Shide.

The AFC Champions League comprises the league and cup champions of the top 14 national associations in the AFC. The winners of the competition earn a berth at the Club World Cup in Japan in December.

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