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Vote for your ACL Club of the Decade!


Monday, February 3, 2020
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Kuala Lumpur: Ahead of the kick-off of the 2020 AFC Champions League, the-AFC.com reflects on 10 years of excellence in Asia's most prestigious club competition and offers the Continent's fans the opportunity to select the team they feel has performed the best.


While the past 10 years may have seen nine different champions, a number of clubs have continually been in contention for the AFC Champions League title. We've chosen five heavyweights, now all that's left is for you to review our selection and cast your vote at the bottom of the article.

The poll ends at 16:00 (UTC +8) on Sunday.

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Al Hilal
Saudi Arabia

Arguably the biggest club on the Continent with a record seven Asian titles to their name, Al Hilal had been one of the most consistent sides in the AFC Champions League era but, prior to 2019, had failed to lift the trophy.

The Riyadh giants have qualified for every edition since 2009 and only once exited at the group stage; however, narrow runners-up finishes in 2014 and 2017 deprived them of the title they craved most.

But in 2019 they returned with a star-studded cast and avenged their defeat to Urawa Red Diamonds two years early as a 3-0 aggregate victory saw them crowned kings of Asia.

Al Hilal, the new king of Asia πŸ‘‘#ACL2019 pic.twitter.com/7ERL4VHRP2

— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) November 24, 2019

In the past 10 years Al Hilal are the only side to appear in three AFC Champions League finals and have been in a further two semi-finals. Does their crowning glory make them the Club of the Decade?


Guangzhou Evergrande
China PR

Guangzhou Evergrande burst onto the scene in 2012, when they reached the quarter-finals, before they became the first Chinese side since Liaoning FC in 1990 to taste Continental glory a year later.

Under Italian tactician Marcello Lippi, Elkeson made his mark on the Asian game as the Guangdong club defeated FC Seoul on away goals to claim the coveted title, but there was much more come.

🀩 "Look at that reaction from him and the fans!"

🎯 Elkeson makes his mark for Guangzhou Evergrande at the 2013 #ACLFinal#GoalOfTheDay pic.twitter.com/WHTFDjPB4C

— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) November 19, 2019

Two years later, now helmed by Luiz Felipe Scolari and with Paulinho in their ranks, Elkeson was again the hero as Guangzhou saw off Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates to lift the trophy for the second time.

Since that night at Tianhe Stadium, a semi-final showing in 2019 is the best they have managed, but they remain.the only team to be two-time champions in the past decade.


Al Sadd
Qatar

The Doha side have long since had pedigree in Asia's biggest club competition, but Al Sadd's greatest moment came back at the beginning of the decade when they became the first and, to date, only Qatari side to win the competition.

Continental champions in 1989, Al Sadd did it the hard way in 2011, advancing via the play-offs before eventually winning the title on opposition territory by defeating Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on penalties in the one-legged final.

Is this bit of magic from Xavi the best assist in the #ACL2018 so far? pic.twitter.com/kSpS4A3fZ0

— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) June 25, 2018

Knockout round appearances in 2014 and 2015 came in the midst of some lean years on the Continent, but Al Sadd have returned to the fore in recent times and are among Asia's best teams once more.

With Spanish legend Xavi as a player and then a head coach, the Wolves can count themselves hugely unfortunate to have suffered narrow exits in the semi-finals in both 2018 and 2019.


Urawa Red Diamonds
Japan

Champions of Asia in 2007, Urawa underperformed on the Continent in the earlier years of the past decade, with group stage eliminations in both 2013 and 2015.

However, a Round of 16 appearance in 2016 was a sign of things to come as the club developed into AFC Champions League specialists and their Saitama Stadium became synonymous with famous victories.

89' GOAL!!! 1-0 @redsofficial! (2-1 agg.)

RAFAEL SILVA SCORES! A brilliant top corner strike - WHAT A GOAL!#ACLFinal #URAvHIL pic.twitter.com/aY2cGuyCiP

— FOX Sports LIVE! (@FSAsiaLive) November 25, 2017

In 2017, superb home form in the knockout rounds culminated in Rafael Silva scoring late in the second leg of the final against Al Hilal to delight the sea of red in attendance as they were crowned champions.

Another march to the showpiece event in 2019 – despite poor league form – gave them a chance to become the first three-time winners, only for Al Hilal to deny them following a 3-0 aggregate win.


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Korea Republic

A giant of the Asian game, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors were the 2006 champions and almost added a second title in 2011, only to suffer a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to Al Sadd in the final.

While that loss in front of home support will have hurt, the Jeonju side reached the knockout rounds on three successive occasions between 2013 and 2015.

πŸ’₯ Leonardo with a screamer for @Jeonbuk_hyundai in 2016!

Best #ACLFinal goal you've seen is _____⁣ #GoalOfTheDay pic.twitter.com/OHqgGKeZ38

— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) November 20, 2019

Then, in 2016 they returned to the fore. Big home wins over Shanghai SIPG and FC Seoul saw them progress to a final against inaugural winners Al Ain and this time they would not be denied.

A brace by Brazilian Leonardo helped claim a 2-1 first-leg win and a 1-1 draw in the UAE was enough to secure the title. Jeonbuk have yet to return to those heights since but are always among the early favourites.

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