Sharjah: The AFC Champions League is back, and with an unprecedented 40 teams spread across 10 groups, the race for the title of Asian champions is sure to be bigger and more intense than ever.
One of the West Zone’s most interesting groups will be found in the United Arab Emirates, where Sharjah will welcome Uzbekistan Super League holders FC Pakhtakor, Iranian Cup winners FC Tractor and Air Force Club of Iraq, who sealed their place with a thrilling play-off win earlier this week.
Ahead of Wednesday’s kick-off, allow the-AFC.com to bring you up to speed with the venue, star players and the group’s context.
Riyadh: The group stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League (West) is set to kick off in the coming days as 20 teams get their continental campaigns underway.
An intriguing Group D in Riyadh will see Al Wehdat become the first side from Jordan to ever appear in the competition as the Amman club will go up against Qatar's Al Sadd SC, Iranian team Foolad Khouzestan and hosts Al Nassr.
With the opening round of fixtures taking place on Wednesday, the-AFC.com looks at the stadiums, key players and games to keep an eye out for.
Jeddah: The seaside bustling Saudi metropole of Jeddah hosts Group C of the 2021 AFC Champions League with local side Al Ahli Saudi FC joined by Iran Pro League giants Esteghlal FC, Iraqi powerhouse Al Shorta and one of Qatar’s most successful sides Al Duhail SC.
In the competition’s expanded format of 40 teams playing in 10 groups, with the group leaders in addition to the top six runners-up qualifying to the Round of 16, competition will be more intense than ever to book a place in the knock-out stage.
Riyadh: The second of two 2021 AFC Champions League groups being played in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Group A gets underway on Thursday with 2019 winners Al Hilal SFC joined by 2015 runners-up Shabab Al Ahli and debutants FC Istiklol and FC AGMK.
In the competition’s expanded format of 40 teams playing in 10 groups, with the group winners in addition to the best six runners-up advancing to the Round of 16, competition will be more intense than ever to book a place in the knock-out stages.
Kuala Lumpur: As fans of Asian football prepare for the return of the AFC Champions League, with the group stage of the 19th edition of the continental competition's group stage kicking off on Wednesday, the-AFC.com looks back at the tournament's history.
A record 40 teams split into 10 groups will take part in the 2021 AFC Champions League as the competition continues to go from strength to strength, showcasing Asia's finest teams and numerous world-renowned players.
Having so far looked at the tournament over its first 15 years, we shift the focus to the more recent editions, when there was glory for a trio of powerhouses from Japan, Saudi Arabia and Korea Republic.
Nekounam: Focus, determination took Foolad into AFC Champions League group stage
Riyadh: Head coach Javad Nekounam praised Foolad Khouzestan FC’s focus and determination as the Islamic Republic of Iran side sealed a place in the 2021 AFC Champions League group stage on Saturday.
Two goals from captain Chimba and one each from Saleh Hardani and Ayanda Patosi saw Foolad score an emphatic 4-0 win over UAE's Al Ain FC at the Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, putting the Iranians in the group stage for the fourth time in their history.
The resounding victory confirmed Foolad as the 20th team in the West Zone group stage, with Nekounam’s side joining Qatar’s Al Sadd SC, Al Wehdat of Jordan and Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in Group D of the 2021 AFC Champions League.
Revealed: The AFC Cup All-time XI, as voted by you!
Kuala Lumpur: The unstoppable strikers, the impassable defenders and the impossible talents - in the eyes of Asia’s fans, they are the outstanding players in AFC Cup history .
Over the last six weeks football watchers in their tens of thousands have cast their votes for more than 60 shortlisted players from Asia and beyond, and in every position.
The result is today’s AFC All-time XI – A celebration of the greats who have graced the tournament since its inception in 2004, collecting 10 winners’ medals and scoring over 130 AFC Cup goals between them.
There are legends everywhere you look, so join the-AFC.com in paying tribute to the achievements of our Dream Team, while possibly lamenting the fact that they’ll never play together in a real match.