Today, Monday, the Asian Football Confederation announced the details of the draw for the group stage of the AFC Champions League for the 2023/2024 season.
The federation stated on its website today that the draw ceremony will take place on Thursday, August 24, at the AFC headquarters in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
The 21st edition of the tournament, with its modern system, is witnessing the transition for the first time from the spring to autumn season, as the tournament dates extend from September 2023 to May 2024.
The lottery witnesses the division of the participating clubs into 10 groups, so that each group includes four clubs, as the West Asian clubs are divided into groups from the first to the fifth, while the East clubs are divided into groups from the sixth to the tenth.
Among the 40 competing clubs in the group stage, 32 competitors have already been identified, while the remaining eight seats will be determined through 8 matches in the preliminary round of the playoffs, which will be held tomorrow, Tuesday. Note that the lottery system stipulates that there are no two teams from one country in the same group.
In the East, the list of clubs participating in the group stage includes former champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Ulsan Hyundai and Pohang Steelers from South Korea.
Meanwhile, defending champions Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan will have to overcome Hong Kong’s Le Mans in the preliminary play-off on Tuesday, August 22, before they can embark on their journey with ambitions of winning their fourth title.
Meanwhile, the Western region is witnessing the presence of four former champions, namely Al-Hilal Club of Saudi Arabia and its citizen Al-Ittihad, Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates and Al-Sadd of Qatar, as these clubs look forward to regaining the continental throne.
The distribution of the levels of the participating clubs in the draw for the group stage of the AFC Champions League 2023/2024 is as follows:
First level: Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia), Persepolis (Iran), Al-Sadd (Qatar), Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan), Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia).
Pot 2: Sepahan (Iran), Al-Duhail (Qatar), Nasaf (Uzbekistan), Al-Fayhaa (Saudi Arabia), Nasaji Mazandaran (Iran).
Pot 3: Al Faisaly (Jordan), Esteghlal (Tajikistan), Air Force (Iraq), Ahal (Turkmenistan), Mumbai City (India).
Fourth level: Al Ain (UAE), Al Nasr (Saudi Arabia) or Shabab Al Ahli (UAE), Tractor (Iran) or Sharjah (UAE), Al Arabi (Qatar) or AGMK (Uzbekistan), Al Wakra (Qatar) or Navbahor ( Uzbekistan).
Pot 1: Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea), Yokohama Marinos (Japan), Wuhan Three Towns (China), Buriram United (Thailand), Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea).
Pot 2: Ventforet Kofu (Japan), Shandong Taishan (China), Bangkok United (Thailand), Pohang Steelers (South Korea), Kawasaki Frontale (Japan).
Pot Three: Hanoi (Vietnam), Kaya Iloilo (Philippines), Johor Darul Azim (Malaysia), Melbourne City (Australia), Lion City Sailors (Singapore).
Pot 4: Kitchi (Hong Kong), Incheon United (Korea Republic) or Haiphong (Vietnam), Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan) or Li Man (Hong Kong), Zhejiang (China) or Port (Thailand), Shanghai Port (China) ) or Pathum United (Thailand).
At the end of the group stage, the first-placed clubs in the ten groups qualify for the round of 16, along with the three best second-placed clubs in each region.
The elimination round competitions will be held from February to April of next year, with the two final round matches taking place on May 11 and May 18, 2024.