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AFC Asian Champions League

AFC Asian Champions League

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CBS Sports
CBS Sports » Seasons 2021-2024
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About AFC Asian Champions League

The AFC Champions League is the most prestigious club tournament in Asia. The tournament is played in a similar format as the one used in the UEFA Champions League, with 32 teams taking part in the group stage after a preliminary round.

It began in 1967 and has undergone a number of changes. After the 1972 edition, the competition – then known as the Asian Champion Club Tournament – was discontinued only to make its return in 1985 as the Asian Club Championship. In 2002, it combined with the Asian Cup Winners' Cup and Asian Super Cup to form the AFC Champions League as we know it today.

The idea of how to allocate spots for this tournament was inspired by UEFA’s coefficient ranking which grants nations with higher coefficients more spots in the group stage of the competition. The tournament kicks off during the first three months of the calendar year, typically in February, and wraps up in November/December.

A total of 32 teams make the competition proper. They are split into eight groups of four in a double round-robin format, with the top two clubs from each group progressing to the round of 16. The last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final are all held in a two-legged format. Not only are the winners in the final crowned the champions of Asia, but they are also selected as the continent’s representative in the FIFA Club World Cup for the following season.

South Korean, Japanese, and Saudi Arabian clubs have enjoyed tremendous success in this tournament, with teams from the aforementioned countries winning a combined total of 23 titles from the first 38 editions. The likes of Al-Hilal, Pohang Steelers, Seongnam FC, Al-Ittihad, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, and Urawa Red Diamonds are just a few of the teams to get their hands on the title. Yasuhito Endō, Asamoah Gyan, Kim Do-hoon, Omar Abdulrahman, and Bafétimbi Gomis are a few notable players to have graced this stage. Given that it is the region’s most prestigious club competition, it comes as little surprise that AFC Champions League sits alongside the Asian Cup as the continent’s most popular competitions. This is reflected in its viewership via TV broadcasts, live streaming, and on-demand options.

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