Saudi, Japanese and Korean clubs dominate last 16 of AFC Champions League

January 2 – While the focus of Asian football will be on the 2023 Asian Cup that kicks off January 12 in Qatar, the AFC’s Champions League  2023/24 has now reached the last 16 knockout stage with the draw having been held before the new year.

The round of 16 will be played in February, hard on the heels of the Asian Cup final that will be played February 12.

The East and West zones will play off in their own regions with six former Asian champions in the  knockout stage.

In the West zone four Saudi Arabian teams make up the eight regional contenders for a quarter final slot.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr, seeking their first Champions League title, will meet Saudi rivals Al Fayha.

Meanwhile Saudi’s four-time Asian champions Al Hilal and their free-scoring forward Aleksander Mitrovic open their round of 16 tie away to Iran’s Sepahan SC, runners-up of the 2007 edition of the tournament. Al Hilal will be without Neymar following a serious knee injury that will keep him out for a further seven months.

Saudi Arabia’s fourth last 16 qualifier, two-time Champions League winners Al Ittihad – who have the star power of Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Fabinho to call on – will face Uzbekistan’s Navbahor.

Inaugural AFC Champions League winners Al Ain of the UAE will play Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf.

Japan and South Korea dominate the qualifiers in the East Zone. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC will host Pohang Steelers in an all-Korea Republic affair – both are former Asian champions.

Debutants Ventforet Kofu face Korea Republic’s two-time champions Ulsan Hyundai FC, with the Japanese side to play the first leg away.

Shandong Taishan FC of China PR will host Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale while Bangkok United of Thailand will play Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos.

Schedule

Round of 16
West (February 12,13; February 19, 20)
R16-1: FC Nasaf (UZB) v Al Ain FC (UAE)
R16-2: Al Fayha SC (KSA) v Al Nassr (KSA)
R16-3: Sepahan SC (IRN) v Al Hilal SFC (KSA)
R16-4: Navbahor (UZB) v Al Ittihad (KSA)
East (February 13, 14; February 20, 21)
R16-5: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (KOR) v Pohang Steelers (KOR)
R16-6: Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR) v Ventforet Kofu (JPN)
R16-7: Shandong Taishan (CHN) v Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
R16-8: Bangkok United (THA) v Yokohama F. Marinos (JPN)
Quarter-finals
West (March 4, 5; March 11,12)
QF1: Winners of R16-1 v Winners of R16-2
QF2: Winners of R16-3 v Winners of R16-4
East (March 5, 6; March 12,13)
QF3: Winners of R16-5 v Winners of R16-6
QF4: Winners of R16-7 v Winners of R16-8
Semi-finals
West (April 16, 23)
SF1: Winners of QF1 v Winners of QF2
East (April 17, 24)
SF2: Winners of QF3 v Winners of QF4
Final (May 11, 25)
Winners of SF2 v Winners of SF1

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1708913165labto1708913165ofdlr1708913165owedi1708913165sni@n1708913165osloh1708913165cin.l1708913165uap1708913165

 


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