Central and South Asian Wrap: Persepolis, Pakhtakor depart for AFC Champions League on a high, Alga go top in Kyrgyz Republic
Bishkek: Some of the region’s biggest clubs are preparing for the 2021 AFC Champions League kick-off, but the action continues on the home front in leagues throughout Central Asia, as well as the Maldives in the South.
In this week’s wrap, Persepolis and Pakhtakor, the respective defending champions of IR Iran and Uzbekistan, win ahead of their AFC Champions League travels, while Alga of Kyrgyz Republic and Eskhata of Tajikistan make life interesting elsewhere in Central Asia.
Join the-AFC.com for all the key news and results from Isfahan to Issyk-kul.
China PR’s Jia taking nothing granted ahead of final showdown against Korea Republic
Suzhou: They return to home soil holding a 2-1 aggregate lead, but China PR head coach Jia Xiuquan has urged his side to focus entirely on Tuesday’s second leg of the Tokyo Olympic women’s football qualifying playoff against Korea Republic.
Wang Shuang’s winning penalty kick in Goyang City means the Steel Roses require only a draw at Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre to become the third and final AFC nation to secure their place in the final tournament, but Jia insists that his side must not be distracted by their advantageous hand.
Goa: The Group Stage of the AFC Champions League arrives in India for the first time in the competition’s history, and Group E brings together a fascinating mix of the old and new as two-time finalists Persepolis from Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar’s Al Rayyan, hosts FC Goa and Al Wahda from the United Arab Emirates face off.
With only the group winners guaranteed to advance to the Round of 16, where they will be joined by the six best runners-up across the 10 groups in the expanded competition, the battle for points will be intense.
Riyadh: The group stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League (West) is set to kick off in the coming days as 20 teams get their continental campaigns underway.
An intriguing Group D in Riyadh will see Al Wehdat become the first side from Jordan to ever appear in the competition as the Amman club will go up against Qatar's Al Sadd SC, Iranian team Foolad Khouzestan and hosts Al Nassr.
With the opening round of fixtures taking place on Wednesday, the-AFC.com looks at the stadiums, key players and games to keep an eye out for.
Jeddah: The seaside bustling Saudi metropole of Jeddah hosts Group C of the 2021 AFC Champions League with local side Al Ahli Saudi FC joined by Iran Pro League giants Esteghlal FC, Iraqi powerhouse Al Shorta and one of Qatar’s most successful sides Al Duhail SC.
In the competition’s expanded format of 40 teams playing in 10 groups, with the group leaders in addition to the top six runners-up qualifying to the Round of 16, competition will be more intense than ever to book a place in the knock-out stage.
Sharjah: The AFC Champions League is back, and with an unprecedented 40 teams spread across 10 groups, the race for the title of Asian champions is sure to be bigger and more intense than ever.
One of the West Zone’s most interesting groups will be found in the United Arab Emirates, where Sharjah will welcome Uzbekistan Super League holders FC Pakhtakor, Iranian Cup winners FC Tractor and Air Force Club of Iraq, who sealed their place with a thrilling play-off win earlier this week.
Ahead of Wednesday’s kick-off, allow the-AFC.com to bring you up to speed with the venue, star players and the group’s context.
Riyadh: The second of two 2021 AFC Champions League groups being played in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Group A gets underway on Thursday with 2019 winners Al Hilal SFC joined by 2015 runners-up Shabab Al Ahli and debutants FC Istiklol and FC AGMK.
In the competition’s expanded format of 40 teams playing in 10 groups, with the group winners in addition to the best six runners-up advancing to the Round of 16, competition will be more intense than ever to book a place in the knock-out stages.