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Kuala Lumpur: With just a month to go until the 2017 AFC Champions League resumes with the quarter-finals, we take a look at the current state of the eight teams remaining in the competition.

The teams in the West are in their pre-season summer camps and strengthening their squads in the transfer market, while the East Asian clubs are at the midway point of their league seasons, battling it out for domestic supremacy.

There are intriguing developments aplenty for all the quarter-finalists, as the-AFC.com profiles the final eight with just four weeks to go.


Al Ain (UAE)

Ins: Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Marcus Berg (Panathinaikos, pictured)

Outs: Lee Myung-joo (FC Seoul), Nassir Al Shamrani (end of loan from Al Hilal), Saeed Al Kathiri (Al Dhafra)

Al Ain have been decisive in the transfer market, following up the signing of Sanfrecce Hiroshima midfielder Tsukasa Shiotani, with that of prolific Sweden international striker Marcus Berg from Greek side Panathinaikos who will take the number nine shirt.

Loanee Nassir Al Shamrani has been allowed to return to parent club Al Hilal and defender Saeed Al Kahtiri has joined Al Dhafra, while Al Ain have recently rejected a bid from OGC Nice for star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman.


Al Hilal (KSA)

Ins: Ali Al Bulaihi (Al Fateh), Mukhtar Fallatah (Al Wehda), Omar Khribin (Al Dhafra), Ali Al Habsi (Reading, pictured), Mohamed Kanno (Al Ettifaq), Hassan Kadesh (Al Ettifaq), Matias Britos (UNAM)

Outs: Abdulmajeed Al Ruwaili (Al Feiha)

Currently in pre-season training camp in Austria, Al Hilal took the headlines with the signing of Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi earlier this week. The former Reading custodian is coming off the back of another stellar year in England where he was voted the Royals’ Player of the Season for a second consecutive time.

Mohamed Kanno and Hassan Kadesh have joined from Al Ettifaq, while former Uruguay U-22 midfielder Matias Britos also moved to the Riyadh club from Mexican club UNAM ahead of the AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg against Al Ain on August 21.


Al Ahli (KSA)

Ins: Ahmed Al Zain (Al Taawoun), Claudemir De Souza (Club Brugge, pictured)

Outs: None

Al Ahli had seen few changes in their playing staff, aside from the earlier signing of Ahmed Al Zain, until Tuesday when they signed Brazilian midfielder Claudemir de Souza from Club Brugge. Sergei Rebov’s team played their first match in nearly two months on Thursday, losing 4-1 to Serie A side Udinese in a friendly game.

Al Ahli will next face Turkish side Konyaspor on July 23 before the 2017-2018 Saudi Pro League season begins on August 12. The Jeddah club will face Al Ettifaq and Al Fateh before the quarter-final first leg clash with Persepolis on August 22.


Persepolis (IRN)

Ins: Shoja Khalilzadeh (Sepahan), Godwin Mensha, Siamak Nemati (both Paykan)

Outs: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende, pictured)

In our two-month update, Persepolis had bolstered their squad with a trio of players but since then only the departure of IR Iran right-back Ramin Rezaeian has been confirmed, with the 27-year-old joining Belgium side KV Oostende. There is, however, reported interest from Persepolis in Iraq and Air Force Club midfielder Bashar Resan, while midfielder Soroush Rafiei is set to finalise a move to Qatar’s Al Khor.

In a pre-season friendly on July 9, the Tehran giants shared a goalless draw with Arsenal Kyiv of the Ukrainian second tier.

With their defence of the Iran Pro League kicking off at the end of the month and their last eight AFC Champions League meeting with Al Ahli looming, Persepolis showed they mean business by beating Hafzi Cup winners Naft Tehran 3-0 to clinch the Iranian Super Cup on Friday. 


Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN)

Ins: None

Outs: None

When we last checked in on Urawa Red Diamonds, they were sitting in midtable and enduring a spell of indifferent form. Well, not much has changed since and Urawa remain off the pace. While they have won four of their last seven domestic games in all competitions, two of those wins were in the Emperor’s Cup and the other two were against this season’s two worst club, Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Albirex Niigata. Forward Shinzo Koroki does, though, lead the J.League scorers standings.

A friendly match against Borussia Dortmund a week ago resulted in a closely fought 3-2 defeat for the Japanese team, but the side from Saitama have work to do ahead of the AFC Champions League quarter-final meeting with Kawasaki Frontale on August 23, particularly as their J.League meeting at the beginning of July ended in a 4-1 loss.


Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)

Ins: None

Outs: None

In contrast to last eight opponents Urawa, Kawasaki have enjoyed a stellar run of form over the last month. The club have been unbeaten in the last five matches in all competitions, winning four of them, including the aforementioned 4-1 win over Urawa at Todoroki Athletics Stadium on July 5.

The run of results has taken Kawasaki to within reach of the J.League summit and into the Fourth Round of the Emperor’s Cup after a 4-0 drubbing of ThespaKusatsu Gunma on Wednesday. Kawasaki are currently in the middle of a two-week break from domestic fixtures and are back in action on July 29 against Jubilo Iwata.


Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN)

Ins: Muriqui (Vasco de Gama)

Outs: None

The big news coming out of Guangzhou Evergrande was the return to the club of 2013 AFC Champions League Top Scorer and MVP Muriqui. The 31-year-old Brazilian, who scored 13 goals at the 2013 continental tournament, joined the Chinese champions on a free transfer from Vasco de Gama and he will be intent on helping his side earn a third continental title.

The club from Canton province have stumbled of late in the Chinese Super League with back-to-back away defeats to Tianjin Quanjian and Beijing Guoan, but they did bounce back to defeat Shandong Luneng to keep a narrow one-point lead at the top of the standings over AFC Champions League quarter-final opponents Shanghai SIPG, who they face this evening.


Shanghai SIPG (CHN)

Ins: None

Outs: None

With Guangzhou Evergrande slipping up in the Chinese Super League, Shanghai SIPG have been able to narrow the gap at the top to just a point, having been four behind a month ago. However, they will be ruing the surprise 4-2 defeat away to Changchun Yatai on July 9 as a win could have seen them take pole position in the domestic championship.

On Wednesday, Shanghai SIPG lost to Tianjian Quanjian in the Chinese FA Cup but it is this evening’s tie against Guangzhou Evergrande that could be the momentum changer in both the hunt for the league title and the AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg between the two on August 22.

Photos: Lagardère Sports, Al Ain FC, Al Ahli FC

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