Home United rivals Lao Toyota banned from AFC Cup for 'influencing'

Home United's potential AFC Cup opponents Lao Toyota have been thrown out of the 2018 tournament for alleged match manipulation.

The club from Laos were due to meet Cambodia's Boeung Ket Angkor in a playoff to decide who would progress to play Singapore's Home United, Myanmar's Shan United and a club from the Philippines in Group F after last week's draw in Kuala Lumpur.

However, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have confirmed their expulsion from the tournament for offenses that took place in 2015 and 2016.

"The AFC Entry Control Board (ECB) declared Lao Toyota Football Club ineligible to take part in the 2018 AFC Cup," a statement on the AFC website said.

"The ECB established that the club was directly and/or indirectly in activities aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of matches during the 2015 and 2016 AFC Cup seasons."

It is another huge blow for football in Laos as the latest in a series of issues related to corruption. In February, 22 players and officials from either Laos or Cambodia were banned for life by the AFC for match fixing, relating to matches involving either Lao Toyota or the Laos national team.

In 2015, Laos Football Federation's president was suspended for two years for accepting a bribe.

This is also the second year in succession in which a club from Laos has missed out on a meeting with Home United in the AFC Cup.

Before the 2017 campaign, Laos champions Lanexang United withdrew due to financial issues in the domestic game making the club's operation unsustainable.

It has not yet been confirmed if Lao Toyota's place will be taken by another club from Laos or if Boeung Ket Angkor will now progress directly to the group stage.