Kuala Lumpur: The 2023-24 AFC Champions League™ is upon us as the group stage kicks off on Monday and a host of global stars prepare to make their debuts in Asia’s most prestigious club competition.
While Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema headline the new arrivals, defending champions Urawa Red Diamonds, last season’s runners-up Al Hilal SFC and six other former winners are also in the mix.
With 20 games to take place across 18 countries over the next three days, the-AFC.com has selected five things to look out for.
Kuala Lumpur: The wait for the 2023/24 AFC Champions League™ is almost over with the group stage set to kick off on Monday as 40 clubs across the continent battle it out for the ultimate prize in Asian club football.
It is the first time since the beginning of the 2020 campaign and the onset of COVID-19 that the group stage will return to the home-and-away format with the Matchday One games taking place in 18 countries across Asia.
As we countdown the hours to the big kick-off, the-AFC.com takes a look at five players from the East side of the draw who could play a pivotal role for their clubs during what promises to be the most star-studded AFC Champions League season yet.
Riyadh: As the AFC Champions League™ 2023/24 gets underway on Monday, the five West groups will feature an unprecedented level of star power, with some of the world’s finest players moving to Asia over the course of the past few months.
Asia’s top club competition will for the first time boast not one, but two former Ballon d’Or winners, as well as some prolific AFC Champions League perennials and some of their respective nations’ all-time top scorers. The-AFC.com looks at some of the most exciting players to watch ahead of the group stage.
ASEAN Wrap: Melbourne reach semis; Madura lead in Indonesia
Kuala Lumpur: Melbourne City needed a late winner from Tolgay Arslan to defeat MetroStars 2-1 on Thursday and enter the semi-finals of the Australia Cup where they will face Sydney FC, while Brisbane Roar will take on Melbourne Knights in the other last-four clash.
Madura United remain four points clear at the top of the standings in Indonesia after a 3-0 win against Persebaya Surabaya on Sunday while their closest challengers Borneo and RANS Nusantara, tied on the same points after 12 rounds, kept up the pressure on the leaders with wins during the week.
Tadanari Lee, Japan's 2011 AFC Asian Cup™ Final hero, hit a double in his final professional match, with Brazilian striker Bergson also bagging two goals as holders Johor Darul Ta’zim defeated Negeri Sembilan in the first leg of their Malaysia Cup quarter-final, while there were also matches in Thailand and Cambodia, so join the-AFC.com as we review the week’s action from ASEAN.
Central & South Asia Wrap: Muras United lift Kyrgyz Republic Cup; Paro lead the way in Bhutan
Bishkek: Muras United emerged as champions of the Kyrgyz Republic Cup 2023 after they defeated Abdysh-Ata Kant while in the league, Alay stole a march on their challengers to move to the top of the standings.
There were also matches in the Bhutan Premier League and Turkmenistan Higher League as domestic football returned after the international break, so join the-AFC.com as we go through the action from Central and South Asia.
East Asia Wrap: Sanfrecce stun Vissel; Pohang close in on Ulsan
Hong Kong: The battle for the league title in Japan took another twist this week as leaders Vissel Kobe were beaten 2-0 by Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday leaving just one point between them and defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos in second place with seven games remaining.
The title race in Korea Republic is also heating up as it enters the home stretch after Pohang Steelers defeated Suwon FC 2-0 on Saturday to move six points behind leaders and reigning champions Ulsan Hyundai, who continued their recent struggles with a 1-1 draw against Daejeon Hana Citizen.
Shanghai Port moved another step closer to the league title in China PR with a 2-0 defeat of Changchun Yatai on Friday while there were also matches taking place in Hong Kong and Guam, so join the-AFC.com as we bring you up to speed with the action from across East Asia.
West Asia Wrap: Al Hilal set early pace but rivals lurk
Riyadh: Al Hilal SFC are setting the early pace in what is shaping to be an exciting Saudi Pro League 2023/2024.
The two-time AFC Champions League™ winners ended Matchday Six a point ahead of their rivals while there was also action in Jordan and Oman so join the-AFC.com as we review the past week’s domestic action across West Asia.