Kuala Lumpur: While the AFC Cup trophy spent a year outside West Asia after Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim claimed the 2015 title, it was to be emphatically taken back by a side that would write their name into the history books.
The-AFC.com continues its look back on tournaments gone by with the three most recent editions prior to the 2019 campaign as Iraq's Air Force Club complete a stunning hat-trick, a new Zonal format is introduced and attendance records are shattered.
Kuala Lumpur: West Asian triumphs have dominated AFC Cup history over the years, with only Uzbekistan's Nasaf taking the trophy outside the region in the years between 2004 and 2014.
So,as the-AFC.com reviews the finals between 2013 and 2015, it is hardly surprising we see the first three-time champion comes from the West. However, in the latest look back at the showpiece event, a new force from Southeast Asia also arrives on the Continental scene.
Kuala Lumpur: With Air Force Club and Altyn Asyr set to lock horns in the 2018 AFC Cup Final on Saturday, join the-AFC.com as we recall how the Iraqi side won their second successive title only 12 months ago.
This will be the first AFC Cup final in history to witness a side from Turkmenistan after Altyn Asyr knocked out DPR Korea's 4.25. On the other hand Air Force Club are one win away from becoming the first club to ever win the AFC Cup three consecutive times.
One year ago, Air Force Club had to defeat another team from central Asia, FC Istiklol of Tajikistan, in the final to lift the trophy.
AFC Cup Final Flashback: FC Istiklol v Johor Darul Ta’zim (2015)
Kuala Lumpur: The 11 AFC Cup finals that had preceded the 2015 edition had seen 10 all West Asia affairs and just one team from outside the region – Uzbekistan’s Nasaf in 2011 – compete in the showpiece event.
But 2015 proved a groundbreaking year for the competition as Malaysian powerhouse Johor Darul Ta’zim and Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol were the two sides to advance to the final as Southeast Asia took on Central Asia for the right to be crowned continental champions.