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Kuala Lumpur: After last week’s edition of Asian Football Trivia mined the archives in order to find Asia’s oldest club and oldest professional league, this time round our questions all revolve around the format of the continent’s premier club competition, the AFC Champions League.



This is an issue that we’ve noticed fans are often debating on social media.

So here’s the answer from our colleagues in competitions:

“From the 2013 edition onward, a two-legged final match method has been implemented because:

(1) It gives better fairness of competition and an opportunity for both sets of fans to witness the Final Matches.

(2) It allows easier match organisation and arrangement with host familiarity.

(3) It creates ticketing revenue for both hosts.

(4) It ensures higher attendance of spectators & media at each respective home matches.”

Following the competition’s revamp, the AFC Champions League’s inaugural showpiece in 2003 was a two-legged affair with the meetings between Al Ain and BEC Tero Sasana in Al Ain and Bangkok respectively.

Al Ain faced BEC Tero Sasana over two legs in the first AFC Champions League final

The two-match series continued up until 2009 when National Stadium Tokyo was the sole, neutral venue for the one-off final between Korea Republic’s Pohang Steelers and Saudi club Al Ittihad, as it was in 2010 when Seongnam beat Zobahan.

In 2011 and 2012, the final was hosted by one of the finalists, decided by a draw.

In 2013, and the competition decider between Guangzhou Evergrande and FC Seoul, the competition reverted to a two-legged final match.

From the general, to the very specific. Thanks for the question, Fadi.

“The Member Association (Lebanon) have failed to meet the AFC Club Licensing Criteria, although they were awarded one play-off slot.”

To further elaborate, in each of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 AFC Champions League competitions, Lebanon was allocated one preliminary round slot, but was not allowed to participate as none of their teams passed the club licensing requirements.

Lebanon’s Nejmeh played in the 2005 AFC Cup Final

Lebanese clubs have, though, had success in the AFC Cup, where Nejmeh (2005) and Safa SC (2008) have been runners-up.

For further reading, the AFC Club licensing requirements can be found here while the entry manual for 2017-2020 can be found here.

A two-parter from Topher, there. Let’s deal first with the question of which club has won the most continental titles.

For this exercise, we’ll include the AFC Champions League, the AFC Cup, and the now defunct trio of the Asian Club Championship, Asian Cup Winners Cup and Asian Super Cup.

Since the tournament revamp in 2002-03, Al Ittihad, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Guangzhou Evergrande have all won the AFC Champions League twice.

However, 2009 AFC Champions League winners Pohang Steelers also won the Asian Club Championship on two occasions (1997, 1998), putting them as our early leaders on three titles.

Pohang Steelers are three time continental champions.

Kuwait SC, three-time winners of the AFC Cup, can match that, but it is Pohang’s compatriots Suwon Samsung Bluewings who can surpass them, having won both the Asian Club Championship and the Asian Super Cup twice  -taking their trophy haul to four.

However, we do have one more club who can boast more.

Saudi giants Al Hilal are the only side to have won the Asian Club Championship (1991, 1999-2000), the Asian Super Cup (1997, 2000) and the Asian Cup Winners Cup (1996-97, 2001-02).  

With six Asian trophies in their cabinet, it can be argued that – in terms of continental titles – Al Hilal are the most successful thus far.

AL Hilal defeated Jubilo Iwata in the 1999-2000 Asian Club Championship Final

The first part of this question deals with the Roll of Honour, so we’ll again, for the last time this week, defer to our colleagues from competitions:

“The AFC Champions League (ACL) is a competition that determines the strongest clubs in Asia that takes place on an annual basis.

"The concepts of the two competitions i.e. the Asian Club championship and the ACL can be shared in that the best Football Club throughout the continent are born as a result of the competitions and yet the elements implemented and system, design and administration carried out in the ACL are all clearly distinguished from the previous one.

"As such, the winner of one edition of the AFC Club Championship remains the best club in Asia for that particular year in the past though it does not reflect in the current format of the Competition, which is ACL.”

Check out our previous editions of Asian Football Trivia:

Which is the oldest club in Asia?

What’s the biggest upset in AFC Champions League history?

Who is the most popular club in Asia?

Which club has played the most matches in ACL + AFC Cup ever?

Which is the luckiest shirt colour?

Photos: Lagardère Sports