Football

Record-high number of teams to participate in AFC competitions

The AFC is set to stage the group stage draw for the AFC Cup and AFC Champions League on 27 January, with both competitions witnessing expansion.

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Record-high number of teams to participate in AFC competitions
ADRIANO MACHADO REUTERS

The AFC Champions League and AFC Cup group-stage draws are set to be held in Malaysia on 27 January, with both competitions set to witness a huge expansion as two groups will be added to the AFC Champions League group stage for the first time in history, while the AFC Cup is set to see the participation of 39 teams instead of 36.

With a new group added to both the east and west regions in the Champions League, 40 teams instead of 32 will be competing for the title, and the AFC Cup will include a new 'central zone' group that will cause the rise of participating teams to 39 instead of 36.

Teams to make their AFC CL debut

According to the new system, some Asian clubs are set for their historic AFC Champions League debut this season, including: newly-crowned Jordanian Pro League champions Al Wehdat, India’s FC Goa, and two-time AFC Cup runners-up FC Istiklol from Tajikistan in the west region, as well as United City FC from the Philippines, Tampines Rovers from Singapore and Vietnam’s Viettel FC in the east region.

Title holders in pot 2

Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, Qataris Al Sadd and Al Duhail, Iranians Perspolis and Sharjah of the UAE are in pot 1 of the draw, while reigning champions Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea, Al Nassr and Ahly Jeddah of Saudi Arabia, Iranians Tractor, and Shabab Ahly Dubai of UAE have been drawn in pot 2.