West Asia Domestic Wrap: Perfect tuneup for Al Hilal
Kuala Lumpur: Al Hilal SFC received a morale booster ahead of Tuesday's 2019 AFC Champions League semi-finals second leg with a big win that kept them on top of the Saudi Pro League on Friday.
Al Sadd, who face Al Hilal in Tuesday's Continental semi-final, were not in action as their Qatar Stars League tie was postponed, UAE Pro League defending champions Sharjah continued their perfect record and Kuwait SC maintained their unbeaten run in Kuwait.
Join the-AFC.com reviews the domestic action in West Asia.
East Asia Domestic Wrap: SIPG top Beijing FC; J.League title race heats up
Kuala Lumpur: Shanghai SIPG secured a big win away at their Chinese Super League title rivals, while Yokohama F. Marinos made up ground on the top two as the hunt for the Japanese championship became a three-way race.
Following the international break, the domestic action in East Asia returned with a bang as the leagues in Japan, Korea Republic and China PR enter the business end of season, while the Hong Kong and Mongolia Premier Leagues also saw some intriguing ties.
Kuala Lumpur: The identity of the 2019 AFC Champions League finalists will be revealed this week, with the decisive second legs of the semi-finals taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Both Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia and Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds have one foot in the Continental final after they recorded victories in the first legs, but Qatari side Al Sadd and Guangzhou Evergrande of China PR will not give up hope yet, with a minimum of 90 exciting minutes of football still to play.
We have no other option but to attack, says Huang Bowen
Guangzhou: Midfielder Huang Bowen has insisted that Guangzhou Evergrande will throw caution to the wind on Wednesday in their bid to overturn the 2-0 deficit they face in the semi-final second leg against Urawa Red Diamonds.
Seven times Guangzhou have faced J.League opponents in the AFC Champions League knockout stage, and seven times it has been the southern Chinese side that has emerged victorious.
But at Tianhe Stadium on Wednesday, they face arguably their biggest test yet as they are up against an Urawa side that bring with them a 2-0 lead from the first leg.
A veteran of 12 AFC Champions League tournaments so far, and a winner in 2013 and 2015, Huang Bowen knows full well the challenge his side face.
Kuala Lumpur: When Bafetimbi Gomis bagged a brace in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League semi-final against Al Sadd, not only did he make up for his earlier own goal en route to a 4-1 victory, he also moved joint top of the scoring charts.
Gomis and Leonardo – who has left Al Wahda to join Shabab Al Ahli since the Emirati side were eliminated – are tied with nine goals apiece, but with the Saudi team potentially having three more games to play, the Frenchman is the favourite to win the top scorer award come November 24.
But, while one more goal would see the Al Hilal target man take pole position, there remains a chasing pack who will have one eye on the accolade. Ahead of the semi-final second legs next week, the-AFC.com takes a closer look at the contenders.
Elkeson can be difference-maker at Tianhe, says Paulinho
Guangzhou: Star midfielder Paulinho believes naturalised China PR forward Elkeson may be the man who can re-ignite Guangzhou Evergrande's 2019 AFC Champions League final hopes ahead of Wednesday's semi-final second leg against Urawa Red Diamonds.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg in Japan after goals from Fabricio and Takahiro Sekine, two-time Continental champions Guangzhou are up against it when they host Urawa at Tianhe Stadium in the return meeting of their final four tie.
However, the southern Chinese heavyweights have not yet lost hope. A 21-match unbeaten record in the AFC Champions League on home soil is an excellent foundation for faith and a stacked attacking line-up including some of China and Brazil's top talent is capable of finding the goals needed.
ACL semi-finalists rise to the fore in international break
Kuala Lumpur: Matchdays Three and Four of the Asian Qualifiers took place over the last week with several of the stars from the four 2019 AFC Champions League semi-finalists turning out for their respective countries.
China PR's Guangzhou Evergrande, Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan, Qatari club Al Sadd and Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal will resume their quest to become Asia's kings next week when the AFC Champions League recommences with the second legs of the semi-finals.
Before then, the-AFC.com looks at how their international stars got on for their nations in the most recent rounds of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.