Shanghai Port out of AFC Champions League as Kaya make history
- Philippines side win play-off 1-0 to move on to first group stage where they face Ulsan Hyundai, BG United and Viettel
- Chinese side miss out on groups for first time since 2016 after sending youth team players and reserves to Thai bubble
With all the games taking place in Thailand, Shanghai decided to follow the lead of their fellow Chinese teams and send a mixture of reserve and youth team players. In their case, they also sent Japanese coach Takayuki Kaneko, part of the youth team set-up in Shanghai, to manage the team.
The decision – which is rooted in concerns over quarantine for players and staff ahead of the eventual restart of the CSL season, which is currently on extended pause for the national team’s Fifa World Cup qualifiers – backfired.
Kaya made history in reaching the AFC Champions League group stage for the first time, while Shanghai – known as SIPG until this season’s enforced name change – missed out on the groups for the first time since they made their debut in 2016.
Audie Menzi’s 17th-minute goal, heading in from a Daizo Horikoshi corner, sealed their historic win, with Shanghai Port unable to find a way back into the match.
They progress to group F, where they face Thai side BG Pathum United, Viettel FC of Vietnam and 2020 Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea.
Shanghai, the team of Oscar, Aaron Mooy and Marko Arnautovic, as well as several China internationals such as Yan Junling and Wang Shenchao, fielded an almost unrecognisable line-up, with Fu Huan one of the few players to have CSL experience.
The other two Chinese teams in the group stages – Beijing Guoan and Guangzhou FC – have sent teams with even less experience.
Guangzhou face Thai side Port FC, Japan’s Cerezo Osaka and Hong Kong champions Kitchee, kicking off against Cerezo today.
Beijing play Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale, South Korea’s Daegu FC and Philippines debutants United City. They begin against the new boys on Saturday.