Kuala Lumpur: Thursday’s AFC Cup™ 2022 action across the continent brought the curtain down on the group stage as seven teams from the ASEAN, Central and East Zones joined five from the West and South Zones in the knockout rounds.
A record 38 clubs from 22 nations took part in the first round of an AFC Cup that was bigger than ever before, while the 10 groups were hosted in 10 different countries.
As the competition takes a break before returning for the knockout rounds in August, the-AFC.com highlights some of the other standout numbers.
Dang proud as Viettel youngsters live up to expectations
Ho Chi Minh City: Having booked their place in the AFC Cup™2022 with an unblemished record, Viettel FC are determined to go all the way.
The Vietnamese side came from a goal down to defeat Hougang FC 5-2 in a winner-takes-all clash Group I clash on Thursday and their resolve has convinced assistant coach Dang Thanh Phuong they can lift the coveted trophy, with Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur City FC up next for them in the ASEAN Zonal Semi-finals.
It's all down to teamwork, says Aidil after Kedah advance to ASEAN Zonal semi-finals
Denpasar: Aidil Sharin heaped praise on his side’s collective effort after Kedah Darul Aman came from a goal down to post a resounding 5-1 victory over Cambodia’s Visakha FC on Thursday and advance to the AFC Cup™ 2022 ASEAN Zonal semi-finals as Group G winners.
The Malaysian team lost their opening game against Bali United FC last Friday to give themselves an uphill task to reach the knockout rounds, but recovered to see off Kaya FC-Iloilo on Matchday Two and ensure they went into their final group game with a fighting chance.
And after going a goal down against Visakha, who needed only a draw to claim top spot in the standings, Kedah stormed back as a hat-trick from Mahmoud Al Mardi and goals from Fayadh Zulkifli and Ronald Ngah Wanja sealed a memorable turnaround.
Josue challenges KL City to improve after historic qualification
Kuala Lumpur: Captain Paulo Josue said there is still room for improvement for Kuala Lumpur City following their 2-1 victory over Tampines Rovers of Singapore in their AFC Cup™ 2022 Group H tie at the Kuala Lumpur Stadium on Thursday.
Josue starred with a brace before Tampines’ Boris Kopitovic reduced the deficit as Kuala Lumpur City (KL City) secured a place in the ASEAN Zonal Semi-finals as the runners-up, with Indonesia’s PSM Makassar topping the group.
Buriram: Eastern Long Lions head coach Roberto Losada praised his players for overcoming a challenging build-up to the group phase of the AFC Cup™ 2022 to advance to the next phase of the competition on Thursday.
Losada’s side handed Tainan City a 3-1 defeat at Buriram Stadium to secure top spot in Group J and progress to the Inter-Zone Semi-finals ahead of fellow Hong Kong Premier League side Lee Man.
Goals from Mikael, Sun Him-ming and Victor Bertomeu earned Eastern their second consecutive win in the competition to cap an impressive performance after a season that has been heavily disrupted by a severe COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong earlier this year.
Bishkek: FC Khujand head coach Rustam Khodzhaev heaped praise on his players for making history after qualifying to the AFC Cup 2022™ Central Zonal Final for the first time following their 0-0 draw with FC Dordoi on Thursday.
Khodzhaev’s team only needed a draw to advance and they executed the game plan to near perfection as they defended as a unit and threatened on the counter-attacks against a desperate Dordoi, who needed to win by two goals to qualify.
PFC Sogdiana will be ready for Central Zonal final, says Bakaev
Dushanbe: Head coach Ulugbek Bakaev was grinning from ear to ear after his PFC Sogdiana beat Altyn Asyr FC 3-1 to extend their AFC Cup™ debut campaign into the knockout stage on Thursday.
Sogdiana were at their best with captain Jasur Khasanov scoring a goal in each half, with Javokhir Kakhramonov opening his tournament account with a second half effort, with Nurmyrat Rozyyev scoring a consolation for Altyn Asyr at the Republican Central Stadium.
Bakaev was full of praise for his players’ improved performance and adaptability from match to match as they powered to a perfect three wins in topping Group E.