Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nasr), Neymar (Al Hilal), Karim Benzema (Al Ittihad).
It wasn’t long ago that these superstars were dominating the UEFA Champions League (UCL), and now they’re taking on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL). It’s not uncommon to see K League teams go head-to-head with them for trophies.
For the first time, the ACL 2023-24 season will be played on the autumnal calendar (fall to spring), and the group draw will be held on April 24 (KST). The group stage will begin on the 18th of next month and will last for nine months until the finals in May next year.
A total of 40 teams will compete in 10 groups of four teams per group. Groups A through E are allocated to West Asia and Groups F through J to East Asia, with West and East Asia not meeting until the final.
Most importantly, the tournament will feature a number of stars from the UCL in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s ‘oil money’ spending spree.
There are four teams in Saudi Arabia: Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad, Al-Fayha, and Al-Nasr, who made it through the playoffs (PO).
Al-Hilal boasts the likes of Neymar, Leo Varane, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Alexander Mitrovic. The roster is loaded with stars who played in big leagues like the English Premier League (EPL) and Ligue 1 until last season.
The other teams are just as colorful. Benzema, Fabinho, and N’Golo Kante at the Etihad, and Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, Otavio, and Marcelo Brozovic at the Alnasr. All of these stars are more accustomed to the European stage and will be making their first appearance in the ACL.
Backed by a tremendous amount of power and support, the Saudi teams will be looking to raise the profile of Saudi soccer by taking the top spot in the inaugural tournament.
As mentioned earlier, it will be a shame for K League teams to not be able to face West Asian clubs with superstars like Ronaldo until the final, but they will have a chance if they make it to the final. The finals will be held on May 11 and 18, home and away. 카지노
In the K League, Ulsan Hyundai, Jeonbuk Hyundai, Pohang Steelers, and PO qualifier Incheon United will compete in the ACL for the 2023-24 season with the goal of reaching the top of Asia.
With the exception of Incheon, which is making its first appearance since its founding, all three teams are championship contenders.