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On 27 January, AFC will held the draw for AFC Champions League and AFC Cup. In this article, we will post about how the slots allocation will be for each member association and how the seeding will be for the draw.

AFC Champions League Slot Allocation

In this section, we compare the original slots allocation for each MA with the final slot allocation for ACL 2021. Turkmenistan, Lebanon, Syria, and DPR Korea will not participate in ACL 2021 despite initially having direct and/or indirect slots.

West Region

RankMAOriginal Slots
2021-2022
Final Slots
for 2021
1Qatar3+13+1
2Saudi Arabia3+13+1
3IR Iran2+23+1
4United Arab Emirates2+22+2
5Iraq1+21+2
6Uzbekistan1+11+1
7Jordan1+01+0
8India1+01+0
9Tajikistan1+01+0
10Turkmenistan1+00+0
11Lebanon0+10+0
12Syria0+10+0
1. Turkmenistan representative, Kopetdag, refuses to enter ACL 2021, despite being licensed and meeting sporting criteria. So, the direct slot allocated for Turkmenistan is annulled. This direct slot initially would be redistributed to MA ranked 11th or 12th (Lebanon or Syria). But since there are no clubs from Lebanon and Syria which have AFC license, the direct slot is redistributed to highest-ranked MA which originally only have 2 direct slots: IR Iran.
2. Lebanon’s indirect slot is annulled since they can’t meet the minimum conditions (Stadia, Logistics, Visa, Accommodation, and licensed club)
3. Syria’s indirect slot is annulled since they can’t meet the minimum conditions (Stadia, Logistics, Visa, Accommodation, and licensed club)

East Region

RankMAOriginal Slots
2021-2022
Final Slots
for 2021
1China PR3+13+1
2Japan3+13+1
3Korea Republic2+22+2
4Thailand2+22+2
5Australia1+21+2
6Philippines1+11+1
7DPR Korea1+00+0
8Vietnam1+01+0
9Malaysia1+01+0
10Singapore1+01+0
11Hong Kong0+11+0
12Myanmar0+10+1
DPR Korea failed to fulfill any of the ACL Criteria, so the direct slot is redistributed to MA ranked 11th (Hong Kong).

AFC Champions League Seeding Pots

From 2021 season, AFC made a major changes to the draw mechanism. There will be an open draw for all participating clubs. All clubs divided into 4 pots for each region, based on their AFC Club Competitions Ranking and seeding in their MA.

20 clubs in each region is ordered based on this principle:

  1. First club from MA ranked 1 to 4
  2. Second club from MA ranked 1 to 4
  3. Third club from MA ranked 1 to 2
  4. First club from MA ranked 6 to 10
  5. First club from MA ranked 5
  6. 4 play-offs winner

After the ordering, the 20 clubs then divided into 4 pots. First 5 clubs will be in Pot 1, the next 5 clubs will be in Pot 2, and so on. First club from MA ranked 5 will be put in Pot 4 with play-offs winner, to match the technical balance with the play-offs winner.

West Region

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
QAT 1
Al Duhail
KSA 2
Al Nassr
UZB 1
Pakhtakor
IRQ 1
Al Shorta
KSA 1
Al Hilal
IRN 2
Tractor
JOR 1
Al Wehdat
PO Winner 1
IRN 1
Persepolis
UAE 2
Shabab Al Ahli
IND 1
Goa
PO Winner 2
UAE 1
Sharjah
QAT 3
Al Rayyan
TJK 1
Istiklol
PO Winner 3
QAT 2
Al Sadd
KSA 3
Al Ahli
IRN 3
Esteghlal
PO Winner 4
1. 1st club of MA ranked 5th (Iraq) is placed in Pot 4 with winner of Play-offs in consideration of technical balance. Winner of play-offs is expected to be from MA ranked 1 to 3
2. Esteghlal is placed in Pot 3 as its direct slot has been reallocated from Turkmenistan

East Region

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
CHN 1
Jiangsu
JPN 2
Gamba Osaka
PHI 1
United City
AUS 1
Sydney FC
JPN 1
Kawasaki Frontale
KOR 2
Ulsan Hyundai
HKG 1
Kitchee
PO Winner 1
KOR 1
Jeonbuk
THA 2
Port
VIE 1
Viettel
PO Winner 2
THA 1
BG Pathum United
CHN 3
Guangzhou
MAS 1
Johor Darul Ta’zim
PO Winner 3
CHN 2
Shandong Taishan
JPN 3
Nagoya Grampus
SIN 1
Tampines Rovers
PO Winner 4
1. 1st club of MA ranked 5th (Australia) is placed in Pot 4 with winner of Play-offs in consideration of technical balance. Winner of play-offs is expected to be from MA ranked 1 to 3
2. Kitchee is placed in Pot 3 as its direct slot has been reallocated from DPR Korea

AFC Cup Slot Allocation

In this section, we compare the original slots allocation for each MA with the final slot allocation for AFC Cup 2021. Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, DPR Korea, Macau and Guam will not participate in AFC Cup 2021 despite initially having direct and/or indirect slots.

West Zone

RankMAOriginal Slots
2021-2022
Final Slots
for 2021
1Jordan2+02+0
2Lebanon2+02+0
3Syria2+00+2
4Bahrain1+12+0
5Oman1+12+0
6Palestine1+11+1
7Kuwait0+10+1
8Yemen0+10+0
1. Syria failed to fulfill any of the ACC criteria. So their 2 direct slots is converted into 2 indirect slots. The 2 direct slots then are redistributed one each to MA ranked 4th and 5th (Bahrain and Oman). As a result, Bahrain and Oman’s indirect slot is annulled.
2. Yemen’s indirect slot is annulled since they can’t meet minimum conditions (Stadia, Logistics, Visa, Accommodation, and licensed club)
3. Since there are only 4 teams in the play-offs for 3 group stage slot, two clubs from highest-ranked MA (Two clubs from Syria) received bye to the group stage

South Zone

RankMAOriginal Slots
2021-2022
Final Slots
for 2021
1India1+11+1
2Bangladesh1+11+1
3Maldives1+11+1
4Nepal0+10+1
5Sri Lanka0+10+1
6Bhutan0+10+1
7Pakistan0+10+0
Pakistan’s indirect slot is annulled since they can’t meet minimum conditions (Stadia, Logistics, Visa, Accommodation, and licensed club)

Central Zone

RankMAOriginal Slots
2021-2022
FInal Slots
for 2021
1Uzbekistan1+01+0
2Tajikistan1+11+1
3Turkmenistan1+11+1
4Kyrgyz Republic1+11+1
5Afghanistan0+10+0
1. Uzbekistan is ranked 6th in ACL West Region, so they receive 1 direct slot
2. Since there are 4 direct entrants to the group stage, additional group is added to the Central Zone to ensure equal opportunity
3. Afghanistan’s indirect slot is annulled since they can’t meet minimum conditions (Stadia, Logistics, Visa, Accommodation, and licensed club)
4. Since there are 3 teams in the play-offs for 4 group stage slot, 2nd club from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyz Republic received bye to the group stage

ASEAN Zone

RankMAOriginal Slots
2021-2022
Final Slots
for 2021
1Philippines1+01+0
2Vietnam2+02+0
3Malaysia2+02+0
4Singapore2+02+0
5Myanmar1+11+1
6Indonesia1+11+1
7Cambodia1+11+1
8Laos0+10+1
9Brunei0+10+1
10TImor-Leste0+10+1
Philippines is ranked 6th in ACL East Region, so they receive 1 direct slot

East Zone

RankMAOriginal Slots
2021-2022
Final Slots
for 2021
1DPR Korea1+10+0
2Hong Kong1+11+1
3Macau1+10+0
4Chinese Taipei0+11+0
5Mongolia0+11+0
6Guam0+10+0
1. DPR Korea failed to fufill any of the ACC criteria, so their direct slot is redistributed to MA ranked 4th (Chinese Taipei) and their indirect slot is annulled. Chinese Taipei’s indirect slot is annulled
2. Macau’s representative, Benfica Macau and Chao Pak Kei, refuse to enter AFC Cup 2021, despite being licensed and meeting sporting criteria. So, their direct slot is redistributed to MA ranked 5th (Mongolia) and their indirect slot is annulled. Mongolia’s indirect slot is annulled
3. Guam’s indirect slot is annulled since they can’t meet minimum conditions (Stadia, Logistics, Visa, Accommodation, and licensed club)
4. Since there are only 1 team in the play-offs for 1 group stage slot, 2nd club from Hong Kong received bye to the group stage

AFC Cup Seeding Pots

Same with ACL, there will also be an open draw for AFC Cup. All participating clubs divided into 4 pots for each zone (except South and East Zone), based on their AFC Club Competitions Ranking and seeding in their MA.

All clubs in each zone is ordered based on this principle:

  1. First club from its MA, then ordered by ranking of its MA
  2. Second club from its MA, then ordered by ranking of its MA
  3. Play-offs winner

After the ordering, the clubs then divided into 4 pots.

West Zone

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
JOR 1
Al Salt
BHR 1
Al Hidd
JOR 2
Al Faisaly
BHR 2
Al Muharraq
LBN 1
Al Ahed
OMA 1
Al Seeb
LBN 2
Al Ansar
OMA 2
Al Nasr
SYR 1
Tishreen
PLE 1
Markaz Balata
SYR 2
Al Wahda
Winner PO

Central Zone

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
UZB 1
AGMK
TKM 1
Altyn Asyr
TJK 2
Khujand
KGZ 2
Alay
TJK 1
Ravshan
KGZ 1
Dordoi
TKM 2
Ahal

ASEAN Zone

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
PHI 1
Kaya Iloilo
SIN 1
Lion City Sailors
CAM 1
Boeung Ket
SIN 2
Geylang International
VIE 1
Ha Noi
MYA 1
Shan United
VIE 2
Sai Gon
Winner PO 1
MAS 1
Kedah
IDN 1
Bali United
MAS 2
Terengganu
Winner PO 2

We expect that all subsequent ACL and AFC Cup group stage draws will follow this principle.

References :

  1. Entry Manual for AFC Club Competitions (2021 edition)
  2. ACL 2021 Draw Mechanism
  3. AFC Cup 2021 Draw Mechanism
  4. ACL Regional Ranking and Slot Allocation for 2021 & 2022
  5. ACC Zonal Ranking and Slot Allocation for 2021 & 2022

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