Seoul: The 2023 season of the K League 1 is all set to begin on Saturday with a blockbuster curtain raiser seeing defending champions Ulsan Hyundai hosting title rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
The Horangi finally ended their title hoodoo in the 2022 edition, finishing three points ahead of Jeonbuk and bringing a halt to the Jeonju side’s run of five successive triumphs since 2017 to be crowned champions for the first time since 2005.
The two teams are once again the hot favourites for the title but several other sides will hope to break the duopoly in what promises to be yet another thrilling campaign. With the kick-off to the new season just around the corner, the-AFC.com has everything you need to know.
Preview - QF: Al Duhail SC (QAT) v Al Shabab (KSA)
Doha: Al Duhail SC and Al Shabab FC expect a no-holds barred contest when they face off in their AFC Champions League™ 2022 (West) quarter-final at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on Thursday.
Al Duhail advanced to the last eight tie with a hard-fought 7-6 penalty shootout win over fellow Qatar Stars League side Al Rayyan SC while Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab had a relatively easier outing, defeating Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf 2-0.
Preview - QF: Foolad Khouzestan FC (IRN) v Al Hilal SFC (KSA)
Doha: Foolad Khouzestan have promised another committed and gritty performance when they play Al Hilal SFC in the AFC Champions League™ 2022 (West) quarter-final at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah on Thursday.
Islamic Republic of Iran’s Foolad advanced to the last eight stage with a 1-0 win over Al Faisaly of Saudi Arabia while defending champions Al Hilal cruised to a 3-1 victory over UAE’s Shabab Al Ahli Dubai despite not firing on all cylinders.
Kuala Lumpur: The 2023 Malaysia Super League season kicks off on Friday, while also presenting defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim and last year’s runners-up Terengganu FC with a shot at winning the first silverware on offer during what promises to be a thrilling domestic campaign.
JDT claimed their first-ever treble in Malaysia last season as they won their ninth consecutive league title along with their third Malaysia Cup and second Malaysia FA Cup triumphs, but the competition is expected to be stronger this time around with the league expanding to 14 teams.
The league opener between hosts JDT and Terengganu at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskander Putri will also serve as the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup match — the Southern Tigers having won the trophy last season after overcoming Kuala Lumpur City FC 3-0.
Ahead of the new season, the-AFC.com shines the spotlight.
Newcastle: Striker Caitlin Foord got on the scoresheet as Australia beat Jamaica 3-0 on Wednesday to stretch their win streak to seven in an ideal build-up to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 on home soil this year.
The victory at Newcastle, north of Sydney, ensured they won the four-team Cup of Nations - a dress rehearsal for the showpiece tournament in Australia and New Zealand in July-August.
Sam Kerr's side - who face Ireland, Nigeria and Canada in World Cup Group B - also beat Spain 3-2 and the Czech Republic 4-0.