AFC Champions League reaches Round of 16 with new faces upsetting the old order

May 6 – While UEFA and Concacaf are concluding their Champions League seasons, in Asia the AFC’s Champions League is now only reaching the knock out rounds.

The AFC has made the major shift of changing its season from a calendar year to follow the European split-year season.

Last weekend the knockout slots in the AFC’s East zone for the Round of 16 were finalised following the conclusion of five Group Stages played in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The group stage provided a number of surprises with two former winners of the AFC Champions League eliminated.

Japan (three clubs through) and Korea (two qualifiers) still led the way but their clubs were joined in the last eight of the East zone by teams from Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Australia don’t have a team through to the Round of 16.

Korea Republic’s Daegu FC advanced as the Group F winners, ahead of Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan who qualified as one of the best second-placed sides.

Thailand’s BG Pathum United finished top of Group G, though had to wait for confirmation following Melbourne City’s 3-0 win over United City FC of the Philippines – the Australian side needed a 5-0 victory to go through.

Yokohama F Marinos joined Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from Group H after holding their Korean rivals 1-1 on Sunday, with the Japanese side finishing top on 13 points.

Jeonbuk’s 12-points meant the two-time champions advanced as one of the three best second-placed sides.

Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim created history by winning Group I, which meant two-time winners Ulsan Hyundai FC of Korea Republic and Japan champions Kawasaki Frontale were both eliminated.

Japan’s Vissel Kobe emerged top of Group J, as the 2020 semi-finalists finished ahead of Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC. There wasjoy for the Hong Kong side however, as they took one of the best second-placed berths for the first time.

The East Round of 16 ties will see Daegu take on Jeonbuk, Pathum United against Kitchee, Vissel Kobe will play Yokohama and Johor Darul Ta’zim will go up against Urawa.

The East Zone Round of 16 is scheduled for August 18-19, quarter-finals are on August 22 and semi-final is on August 25, with all ties single-match affairs.

The West Zone knockout stage is scheduled for February 3-10 with the final to be played over two legs on February 19 and 26, 2023.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1653009699labto1653009699ofdlr1653009699owedi1653009699sni@n1653009699osloh1653009699cin.l1653009699uap1653009699

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