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Largest-ever AFC Club Competitions’ cast to discover opponents


Kuala Lumpur: Asian club football looks set to usher in a new era with its biggest-ever season as the attention shifts towards the Group Stage draws for this year’s AFC Cup and AFC Champions League, which is scheduled to take place in a virtual ceremony on January 27, 2021 in Malaysia at 2:30pm and 4:30pm (local time) respectively.

Both club competitions will see a record number of clubs compete in 2021, with two additional groups – one each for the East and West Regions – included in this season’s AFC Champions League Group Stage, which has expanded from 32 to 40 clubs.

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Similarly, the number of clubs in the 2021 Group Stage of the ever-growing AFC Cup may rise to 39 clubs from 36 in the last edition in 2019, with a newly-introduced Group for the Central Zone.

Among the clubs poised to make their Group Stage debut in the AFC Champions League are newly-crowned Jordanian Pro League champions Al Wehdat, India’s FC Goa and two-time AFC Cup runners-up FC Istiklol from Tajikistan from the West Region as well as United City FC from the Philippines, Tampines Rovers from Singapore and Vietnam’s Viettel FC from the East Region.

Inspired by their AFC Champions League 2020 triumph last month, Korea Republic’s Ulsan Hyundai, who will be aiming to become the first side in the modern era to defend their crown since Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad, have been drawn in Pot 2 while their opponents in the 2020 Final and reigning Iranian Pro League champions Persepolis FC have been drawn in Pot 1.

Meanwhile, the stakes for the upcoming edition of the AFC Cup have been raised even higher with this season’s winners guaranteed an opportunity to qualify for the preliminary stage of the 2022 AFC Champions League.

Watch the AFC Cup 2021 Group Stage Draw at 2:30pm here followed by the AFC Champions League 2021 Group Stage Draw at 4:30pm here.

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