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AFC Champions League

AFC Champions League 2018: Tournament Preview

3:18 AM SGT 12/2/18
Urawa Reds
Asia's premier club competition is all set to get underway and here's a sneak peek into the tournament..

The AFC Champions League action returns to the continent this month as the 2018 edition gets underway shortly. 

32 teams across the West and East Zones are set to battle it out for the coveted honour again. This year's edition is the 37th edition of Asia's premier club football tournament and the 16th under the current AFC Champions League title. 

However, this year, there will not be a defending champion as holders Urawa Red Diamonds finished seventh in Japan's J1 League and failed to qualify for this year's edition. 


The West Zone will have four groups (Group A, B, C and D) with four teams each, amounting to a total of 16 teams. The same applies for the East Zone as well (Groups E, F, G and H). 

The teams will play each other twice in home and away format in the group and the top two teams will progress to the Round of 16. 

The knockout stages will involve two-legged ties all the way to the final which is also held over two legs. However, one must note that only in the final will a West Zone team come face-to-face against an East Zone team. 


West Zone: 

GROUP A: Al Ahli (KSA), Al Jazira (UAE), Al Gharafa (QAT), Tractorsazi Tabrizi (IRN)

GROUP B: Al Duhail (QAT), Zobahan (IRN), Lokomotiv Tashkent (UZB), Al Wahda (UAE)

GROUP C: Al Sadd (QAT), Persepolis (IRN), FC Nasaf (UZB), Al Wasl (UAE)

GROUP D: Esteghlal (IRN), Al Rayyan (QAT), Al Ain (UAE), Al Hilal (KSA)


East Zone: 

GROUP E: Jeonbuk Hyundai (KOR), Tianjin Quanjian (CHN), Kashiwa Reysol (JPN), Kitchee FC (HKG)

GROUP F: Shanghai SIPG (CHN), Ulsan Hyundai (KOR), Melbourne Victory (AUS), Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)

GROUP G: Cerezo Osaka (JPN), Jeju United (KOR), Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN), Buriram United (THA)

GROUP H: Kashima Antlers (JPN), Suwon Bluewings (KOR), Shanghai Shenhua (CHN), Sydney FC (AUS)