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Asian Football Trivia: Round Two

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Ali Daei

Kuala Lumpur: In this week's episode of our summer series, we answer your questions on AFC Champions League successful sides, AFC Asian Cup top scorers and qualification rules for AFC Cup winners.

With plenty of time and little football on show, we continue with Round Two of our weekly knowledge booster on all things Asian football. This week we answer three questions asked by our readers through the various AFC social media channels.

After brushing up on your AFC knowledge, please send us more questions for next week via our social media handles and don’t forget to include the hashtag #AskAFC. Enjoy!

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@Alhalaway, an Al Ittihad fan from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, got in touch through Twitter asking about the team with the most appearances in the AFC Champions League knockout stage.

من هوا النادي صاحب الاكثر وصول لدور التصفيات دور ١٦-٨-نصف النهائي - النهائي.

— Alghanmi (@Alhalaway) July 17, 2018

Despite not winning the AFC Champions League title since its inauguration in 2002-03, Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal had reached the knock-out stages 10 times. That record was equalled by Korea Republic’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors this year as Al Hilal exited at the group stage. Unlike Al Hilal, Jeonbuk’s 10 appearances in the knockout stage include two titles; in 2006 and a decade later.

Hot on the two giants trail are UAE’s Al Ain, who were knocked out at the round of 16 this year at the hands of Al Duhail. It marked their ninth AFC Champions League knockout stage qualification.

The good news for @Alhalaway is that his team, Al Ittihad, are not far behind. The two-time Asian champions may have failed to reach the knock-out stages in the past four editions of the competition, but in better times, they advanced past the group stage on seven occasions between 2004 and 2014.

Also with seven appearances in the knock-out stages are Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor, who survived the group stage in seven consecutive campaigns between 2008 and 2014, the highlight of that era for them being two semi-final appearances in 2008 and 2012.

@Alziadi8 from Iraq reached out asking about the all-time top goalscorers of the AFC Asian Cup.

قائمة هدافي كأس امم آسيا عبر تاريخها

— زين العابدين الزيادي (@alziadi8) July 17, 2018

Islamic Republic of Iran legend Ali Daei leads this race with an impressive total of 14 AFC Asian Cup goals. Daei was the top scorer in his maiden continental appearance in 1996, netting eight goals; a record for any player in a single AFC Asian Cup tournament. Half of Daei’s goals in 1996 came in one match, against Korea Republic in the quarter-final as IR Iran won 6-2. He is one of just four players to have bagged four in one game to date.

Four years later in Lebanon, Daei added three more goals, all in the group stage. The iconic striker took his overall tally to 14 in 2004 when he was 35 years old. A goal against Thailand and a brace against Bahrain ensured the Iranian holds this record for many years to come.

Daei’s nearest chaser is Korea Republic’s Lee Dong-gook who has 10 AFC Asian Cup goals to his name. Although Lee is still active at club level with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motor, the 39-year-old is unlikely to be part of the Taeguk Warriors’ setup for UAE 2019.


Amongst active players, 2015 top goalscorer Ali Mabkhout has five goals to his name and will be a key part of the UAE side that will hope to go far on home soil in January. With 24 teams in the tournament and an added Round of 16, it would not be entirely out of question for Mabkhout to net nine goals if he and his teammates were to have an excellent campaign.

Korea Republic’s Koo Ja-cheol had registered five goals in the 2011 edition but failed to add to them in Australia four years later when his tournament was interrupted by injury after just one game. At 29, the Augsburg forward has an outside chance of closing the gap on Daei in January.

@RishavC03, a Mohun Bagan fan from India, asks about whether the 2018 AFC Cup winners qualify to the 2019 AFC Champions League or 2019 AFC Cup.

I just want to know whether the champions of AFC cup gets any direct slot for Next year's ACL or AFC cup.Or do they get any slot in the qualifiers.#AskAFT

— Rishav Chakraborty (@RishavC03) July 13, 2018

According to current AFC rules, the winners of the two club competitions, AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, do not gain automatic qualification to the next edition of either competition. As we have seen in the past two years, the AFC Champions League reigning champions, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in 2016 and Urawa Red Diamonds in 2017 did not qualify to the next edition.

Qualification to the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup is based on member associations' AFC ranking which takes into account the national team’s FIFA ranking as well as club performances in AFC competitions. These rankings can be found here.

The winners of the AFC Cup can only participate in next year’s AFC Champions League or AFC Cup through the route of success in domestic competitions, depending on the number of slots allocated for their member association in the said competition. Additionally, teams who lose in the 2019 AFC Champions League play-off will move into the 2019 AFC Cup group stage.

Those are all the answers from us this week, keep your questions coming through our social media channels and remember to include #AskAFT!

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