Kuala Lumpur: Just three days after the final of a remarkable AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™, the continent’s premier club competition will return when the AFC Champions League™ 2023/24 knockout rounds get underway on February 13.
Some 40 teams entered the group stage when it kicked off back in September, with eight former champions and numerous world-renowned stars from the Saudi Pro League among the initial cast.
That number has now been whittled down to 16 as eight sides from East Asia and eight from West Asia battle it out to be crowned kings of Asia. Ahead of the first legs of the Round of 16, the-AFC.com shines the spotlight on the teams.
Kuala Lumpur: The thrill of top-tier Asian football action returns in the exhilarating aftermath of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ with the pursuit to secure the ultimate Continental club glory getting underway for 16 teams as early as next week when the AFC Champions League™ 2023/24 Knockout Stage kicks off.
The 21st edition of Asia’s flagship club competition concluded its Group Stage in last December and saw eight sides each from the East and West Regions discover their path to the Final at the official draw later in the same month.
West and ASEAN Zone contenders to kick off #AFCCup Knockout Stage
Kuala Lumpur: The final edition of the iconic AFC Cup™ will resume with the Knockout Stage for the 2023/24 season on Monday, February 12.
Eleven teams remain in contention for the 19th AFC Cup™ crown and eight are set to continue their quest for glory across the West and ASEAN Zonal Semi-finals, while the remaining three will be in action during the Inter-Zonal Playoffs between March 6 to April 24, 2024.
Experience playing key role in Qatar’s push for title, says Afif
Doha: Qatar’s debut appearance in the FIFA World Cup on home soil just over 13 months ago may have ended in three defeats but the experience gained, believes Akram Afif, is powering their bid to defend the AFC Asian Cup™ title.
Afif and his teammates moved within one match of lifting the coveted AFC Asian Cup trophy for a second time after a breathtaking 3-2 win over Islamic Republic of Iran in their semi-final on Wednesday, with Qatar showing confidence and composure despite the weight of expectations.
Doha: Marquez Lopez was delighted his decision to start without skipper Hassan Al Haydos paid off after Qatar secured a 3-2 win over Islamic Republic of Iran on Wednesday to seal a second successive appearance in the AFC Asian Cup™ final.
Lopez felt Homam Ahmed, Yusuf Abdurisag, Akram Afif and Almoez Ali had the pace needed to break down Iran’s backline, a decision that delivered handsome dividends for the defending champions, who face Jordan in Saturday’s final.
Doha: Amir Ghalenoei apologised for Islamic Republic of Iran’s 3-2 defeat to Qatar in their AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ semi-final on Wednesday, with the head coach saying he was to blame.
Despite Sardar Azmoun giving them a fourth minute lead, Iran were overrun by Qatar, with strikes from Jassem Gaber and Akram Afif putting the defending champions ahead. Alireza Jahanbakhsh restored parity from the penalty spot but Almoez Ali snatched victory for the hosts with his 82nd minute goal.