The 32-team field for the AFC Champions League has been completed following the conclusion of this week’s preliminary stage.
Eight teams – many of them clubs with a strong record of domestic or even continental success - secured passage from the three stage preliminary round and will feature in the eight-group stage which commences next Tuesday.
Among those progressing this week were 2011 winners Al Sadd with the Qataris advancing in dramatic fashion after a 4-4 draw at United Arab Emirates’ Al Wahda, before winning on penalties. Sadd had edged also past Bahrain’s Riffa a week earlier with an epic 11-10 shoot-out win.
Elsewhere in west Asia, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli, Iran’s Naft Tehran and Uzbekistan powerhouse Bunyodkor all won through.
In the east, a host of major clubs also topped their respective match-ups to advance, headed by 2013 finalists FC Seoul who stormed to a 7-0 win over Vietnam pre-qualifiers Hanoi T&T.
Beijing Guoan were relatively untroubled in easing past Bangkok Glass 3-0, however former J-League champs Kashiwa Reysol needed extra time and a 115th-minute winner from Leandro to quell a strong challenge from Chonburi FC.
Finally, Guangzhou R&F are into the Champions League group stage for the first time after a 3-1 victory away at A-League side Central Coast Mariners.