Asian Football Confederation will revamp its club competition, starting from 2024-25 season. There will be three competitions, with total of 76 teams in the group stage of all competitions. In Part 1 of this series, we have simulated the competition with Jeonbuk comes out as the winners of AFC Champions League. You can read Part 1 here
In Part 2 of this series, we have refined the simulation. We use actual domestic season results to determine participating teams. We also changed the ACL quarter-finals pairings to West vs East, just like the real life version. In addition, the ACL quarter-finals, semi-finals and final matches will be held in a centralized host country. The third-tier group stage is also now played in a centralized venue, with one of the teams in each group hosting the event.
Notes, the explanation here won’t be very detailed, so please check Part 1 for more detailed explanation. Let’s see the simulation results now.
AFC Champions League
The traditional group stage of AFC Champions League will be replaced with Swiss system. There will be two groups of 12 teams, with West and East region have their own group.
In the East group, Ulsan topped the group after collecting 17 points. Other teams which are qualified to the knockout stage are Kawasaki Frontale, Buriram United, Melbourne City, Jeonbuk, Yokohama F Marinos, Pohang, and Shandong.
Based on the group stage results, the pairings for the round of 16 will be determined. The 1st ranked team will face the 8th ranked team, 2nd will face 7th, and so on. So the matchups are Ulsan vs Shandong, Kawasaki vs Pohang, Buriram vs Yokohama, and Melbourne vs Jeonbuk.
In the West group, Al Nassr finished first after won seven from eight matches. They are followed closely by Al Hilal, which also recorded 7 wins. The other teams which are qualified to the knockout stage are Al Ittihad, Al Sadd, Al Ain, Al Duhail, Esteghlal, and Persepolis.
So based on the group stage results, the pairings for the round of 16 will be Al Nassr vs Persepolis, Al Hilal vs Esteghlal, Al Ittihad vs Al Duhail, and Al Sadd vs Al Ain.
Round of 16
In the round of 16, there is not much shock in the West. The top 4 teams in the group stage all won their tie. Al-Nassr advanced through much difficulty, after winning the penalty shootout. In the East, there is a different story. Ulsan become the only seeded team which are qualified, while the other 3 teams defeated teams with higher rank in the group stage. So the 8 teams which qualified to quarter-finals are Ulsan, Pohang, Yokohama, and Jeonbuk from the East; Al Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, and Al Sadd from the West.
Starting from the quarter-finals, all matches will be held in centralized host nation. In this simulation, Japan become the host nation, with the matches played at Shizuoka Stadium and Japan National Stadium.
In the quarter-finals, team from West will play against team from East. Ulsan, Yokohama, Jeonbuk, and Al-Sadd won their matches and qualified to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, Al Sadd meet Yokohama F Marinos, while in the other tie is Korean derby between Jeonbuk and Ulsan. Hassan Al Haydos scored the dramatic winning goal in the 119th minute to bring Al Sadd into the final. While in the Korean derby, Yun Il-lok scored the early goal to send Ulsan into the final match.
In the final, Al Sadd managed to defeat Ulsan 2-1 with goals from Boualem Khoukhi and Jung Woo Young. Al Sadd lift the ACL trophy with record of 9 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss. So that’s it for AFC Champions League simulation
In the Tier 2 competition, teams from top and middle nation will compete to lift the trophy.
In the West groups, Nasaf, Al Ahed, Nassaji, and Al Fayha won their group. Al Khalidiya, Al Arabi, Navbahor, and Al Wakrah also advanced to the knockout stage as group runner-ups.
In the East groups, all group winners are from top countries, Macarthur, Shanghai Port, Incheon, and Melbourne Victory. The group runner-ups which also advances to the knockout stage are Lion City Sailors, Ha Noi, United City, and Ventforet Kofu.
In the knockout stage, region separation are kept until the final. Al Ahed from Lebanon won the tournament after defeating Incheon on penalty shootout. I think this is a surprise since they defeat teams from stronger nations like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.
For tier 3 competition, each group are played in centralized venue with each team only play 3 matches. Group A is played at Galolhu Rasmee Dhandu, home of Maziya. Group B is played at GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium (Hyderabad). Group C is played at Stadion Im Langari Langarieva (Ravshan). Group D is played at Gelora Bandung Lautan Api (Persib), Finally, Group E is played at RSN Stadium (Phnom Penh Crown).
Top four teams from each region advances to the knockout stage. From the West, there are Al Seeb, Kazma, Al Wehdat, and Shabab Al Khalil. While from the East, April 25, Persib, Ryomyong, and Shan United qualified.
In the knockout stage, region separation are kept until the final same as Tier 2 tournament. April 25 from North Korea won the competition after defeating Al Wehdat in the final.
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