Kuala Lumpur: After six rounds of fixtures the curtain has come down on the group stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League (West), with eight sides advancing to the knockout rounds and 12 teams exiting the competition.
With some continental giants falling at the first hurdle and others scraping through in dramatic fashion, the-AFC.com looks back at what those involved had to say following an exhilarating two days' of action.
2021 AFC Champions League (West): Round of 16 cast finalised
Riyadh: The 2021 AFC Champions League (West) Round of 16 cast was finalised following the conclusion of the Group Stage on Friday.
As Groups A and C brought the thrilling group stage to a close on Friday, the West Round of 16 cast saw several of the continent's biggest club sides missing out with Qatar's Al Sadd SC and Al Duhail SC and Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli Saudi FC among those who exited the tournament.
Micale relieved after Al Hilal's narrow AFC Champions League escape
Riyadh: Head coach Rogério Micale admitted that Al Hilal SFC were fortunate to advance to the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16 after suffering a 2-0 defeat to UAE’s Shabab Al Ahli in their final Group A match on Friday.
A brace from Brazilian forward Igor Jesus nearly dealt a blow to Al Hilal's dreams of advancing to thelast 16 as the Saudi giants finished second behind FC Istiklol of Tajikistan, with the Saudi champions eventually qualifying as one of the three best group runners-up.
Esteghlal had to work hard for AFC Champions League victory against Al Shorta, says Majidi
Jeddah: Head coach Farhad Majidi said Esteghlal FC fought hard to earn a vital 1-0 win against Iraq’s Al Shorta in their final 2021 AFC Champions League Group C tie on Friday.
Esteghlal owed victory to Malian forward Cheick Diabaté, who scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot for their third win and, more importantly, finish as the Group C winners to seal a place in the Round of 16.
Up next for the Islamic Republic of Iran side are 2019 AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal SFC, with the Round of 16 tie against the Saudi Arabia side scheduled for September.
Al Duhail’s Lamouchi disappointed, Al Ahli Saudi's Reghecampf looks at positives after AFC Champions League exit
Jeddah: Head coach Sabri Lamouchi was left disappointed after Al Duhail SC failed to advance to the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16 following a 1-1 draw with Al Ahli Saudi FC in Group C on Friday.
Michael Olunga scored his ninth goal of the tournament to give Qatar's Al Duhail the lead just after the hour mark but Al Ahli Saudi leveled the tie through Haitham Asiri with less than 20 minutes to go.
The result meant both teams failed to advance, with Islamic Republic of Iran's Esteghlal FC winning the group.
Kasimov: AGMK will strive to get to next level after AFC Champions League adventure
Riyadh: Head coach Mirdjalal Kasimov is determined to see AGMK FC striving to get better as they seek a return to the AFC Champions League after a dream debut.
Two second half goals by Zafar Polvonov and Jovan Djokic secured AGMK a 2-1 win over Tajikistan's FC Istiklol as they finished with seven points, just three behind their Central Asian neighbours who emerged group winners.
It was, despite AGMK finishing bottom, an impressive haul as the group also included 2019 AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia and UAE's Shabab Al Ahli Dubai.
Pakhtakor youngsters do Huistra proud after AFC Champions League win over Air Force Club
Sharjah: Pakhtakor head coach Peter Huistra was proud of his young side’s performance in their narrow 1-0 win against Iraq’s Air Force Club on Matchday Six of Group B in the 2021 AFC Champions League.
With both sides having been eliminated from the competition prior to Thursday’s game, Pulatkhuja Kholdorkhonov scored the game’s only goal late on. The two teams spurred chances throughout the 90 minutes, including Humam Tariq’s strike which hit the post in the second half.
Al Wahda’s ten Cate ecstatic with AFC Champions League Round-of-16 progress
Goa: Head coach Henk ten Cate expressed his happiness following Al Wahda’s 2-0 win over India’s FC Goa on Matchday Six, which sealed the UAE club's place in the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Thursday.
The Abu Dhabi-based side advanced to the Round of 16 as one of the best three second-placed finishers, alongside Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis, who finished as group winners after registering a 4-2 win against Qatar’s Al Rayyan.