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Asian clubs continue pursuit for glory


Kuala Lumpur: The chase for club glory in the 2019 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup will resume when Asian clubs learn their opponents in the quarter-finals and knockout stages respectively on Tuesday.

The excitement continues to build in the 2019 AFC Champions League after the thrilling group stage and Round of 16 encounters where four teams from the East Zone – title holders Kashima Antlers as well as 2017 champions Urawa Red Diamonds, both from Japan and China PR’s Guangzhou Evergrande FC, the 2015 winners, and Shanghai SIPG – confirmed their names in the pot.

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While the West Zone resume their campaign in the Round of 16 knockout stage, the competition is shaping up to be another enthralling showpiece with Guangzhou Evergrande FC, Urawa Red Diamonds, Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC and Al Ittihad as well as Al Sadd SFC from Qatar in the running to clinch the ultimate club prize in Asia for the record-equaling third time.

 

Knockout Stage: How They Got There

It has been a riveting lead up to the 2019 AFC Champions League quarter-finals with Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande narrowly making it through on penalties after defeating Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from Korea Republic and China PR’s Shandong Luneng FC respectively.

Kashima Antlers were on the brink of defeat against Sanfrecce Hiroshima before Shoma Doi struck the winner two minutes from time, while Urawa Red Diamonds overturned a first-leg defeat with an emphatic 3-0 away win against Ulsan Hyundai FC of Korea Republic to advance on a 4-2 aggregate.

 

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “The AFC Champions League is our premier club competition and it continues to excite fans in Asia and beyond. The competition is now one of the best Continental club competitions in the world.

“The standard of Asian clubs has improved significantly and it has been a gripping competition in the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, evidently seen as all 68 teams except one club registered points in the Group Stage.

“The AFC Champions League is also a pathway to the FIFA Club World Cup and with Asians teams finishing runners-up twice in the last three seasons – it clearly shows the quality of our teams.”

 

Knockout Stage: How They Got There

There is much at stake in the AFC Cup as new champions will be crowned for the first time since 2015.

Following an enthralling Group Stage campaign, 4.25 SC from DPR Korea emerged East Zone champions for the third consecutive time while Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FC won the Central Zone for the second time and Abahani Limited Dhaka of Bangladesh were first-time winners of the South Zone title.

The contest in the ASEAN and West Zones is promising to excite once more as the regional rivalries reach its final stages. In ASEAN it is an all-Vietnam affair with Becamex Binh Durong and FC Hanoi reaching the ASEAN Zonal final while Lebanese side Al-Ahed and Jordan’s Al Jazeera have made the West Zonal final.

“The AFC Cup exemplifies the passion that exists for football in Asia. It looks like another close race to the final and we look forward to welcoming a new champion for the first time in four years,” said Dato’ Windsor.

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