ACL 2020 to kick-off in Singapore and Philippines
Kuala Lumpur: The 2020 season of Asia’s most prestigious club competition – the AFC Champions League – will kick off on Tuesday with Singapore’s Tampines Rovers and Philippines’ Ceres Negros hosting Indonesia’s Bali United and Myanmar’s Shan United respectively at 7.30pm (UTC +8).
The Preliminary Round 1 qualifying action will continue just minutes later in India where Chennai FC will take on Riffa from Bahrain at the Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad.
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Meanwhile, two regional rivals headline the opening contest in the West Zone with two-time AFC Cup winners, Al Faisaly from Jordan, going head-to-head against three-time AFC Cup champions, Kuwait SC, who will be looking to reach the AFC Champions League Group Stage for a fourth time in the club’s history.
The AFC Champions League 2019, won by Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC, created history by shattering engagement records across all social media platforms, with the biggest increase coming from the AFC’s YouTube channel which saw a staggering 556% increase in new subscribers – especially in West Asia.
🇸🇬 Singapore's @TRFCStags will be Bali United's opponent on Jan 14 in #ACL2020 qualifying...— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) January 10, 2020
🦌 The Stags side took part in last year's AFC Cup and were on the winning side of a 7-goal thriller against Yangon Utd.
How will they do against the Indonesian champions? pic.twitter.com/LDwgmmySvE
AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “The AFC Champions League has grown into one of the world’s leading club Continental competitions and the growing appeal and new engagement records underline once again the AFC’s ambitions to continuously strengthen our competitions for the benefit of our Member Associations, players, clubs and fans.
“Every year, we set out to improve each edition of the AFC Champions League and I have no doubts that we will witness another captivating season in 2020. I wish all our clubs the very best and I must thank all our stakeholders for sharing our belief and bringing our aspirations to life.”
🇮🇩 @BaliUtd return to AFC competitions on Jan 14 in the #ACL2020 qualifiers after missing out last year.— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) January 9, 2020
They were last involved in the 2018 AFC Cup where their highlight was a 3-1 comeback win over Vietnam's Thanh Hóa.
🌏 How far can they go this year in Asia? pic.twitter.com/FbtcD5DpJy
Continuing the tradition of enhancing the tournament year after year, the upcoming edition will present the champions with an added incentive of a guaranteed spot in the Preliminary/Play-off stage of the 2021 showpiece.
A total of 28 clubs are vying for the final eight spots in the AFC Champions League Group Stage, which will commence on February 10, 2020. The Preliminary Round 2 stage is set to take place on January 21 before the decisive play-offs on January 28.
Among this year’s debutants in the group stage are 2019 Thai League 1 champions Chiangrai United, 2019 UAE Pro League winners Sharjah FC, A-League Premiers Perth Glory as well as newly crowned Emperor's Cup champions Vissel Kobe from Japan.
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