(Reuters) – Former UAE winner Al Ain missed a spot in the Asian Champions League group stage on Saturday with a crushing 4-0 playoff loss to Iran Foolad.
A brace from Brazilian striker Chimba as well as strikes from Saleh Hardani and Ayanda Patosi saw the Iranians complete the roster in Group D.
They will join Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, Qatar’s Al Sadd and Jordanian club Al Wehdat, with matches set to start Tuesday in Riyadh.
Al Ain, who won the inaugural tournament in 2003 and last reached the final in 2016, will miss playing in the group stage of the competition for the first time since 2012.
Asian Champions League group stage matches for clubs in the western half of the continent begin on Tuesday, with four cities hosting five groups centrally due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The eastern half of the group stage is set to be played in June and July, with the round of 16 set to begin in September.
Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, editing by Jonathan Oatis