The continent’s most prestigious club competition – the AFC Champions League – will kick off on Tueday with Global FC from the Philippines taking on Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in the Preliminary Stage 1 qualifiers at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila, at 7.30pm local time.

The second round of the Preliminary Stage qualifiers commences on Wednesday, January 25, with Hong Kong’s Kitchee playing host to Vietnam’s Hanoi FC (formerly Hanoi T&T) at the Hong Kong Stadium.

The 2016 edition of the AFC Champions League saw 45 teams from 17 Member Associations compete for the biggest prize purse in Asian club competition history after the AFC doubled the champions’ prize money, from US$1.5 million to US$3 million, making it one of the richest continental club competitions in the world.

AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Windsor John, said that the recent improvements have reinforced the AFC Champions League’s position as one of the world’s leading club competitions.

“Each year the AFC Champions League grows in stature and quality and today we have a club competition few in the world can match. Asia is home to some undeniable talent and the AFC Champions League provides a world-class platform, as envisaged in the AFC’s Vision and Mission and under our banner of One Asia, One Goal, for our stars to shine.

“I am confident that the 2017 edition of the AFC Champions League will continue to enthuse and excite our passionate fans, not only in Asia but around the globe, as it draws more world-class talent.”

The Preliminary Stage 2 matches will continue on January 31 when another nine teams from the East and West Zones – including Australia’s Brisbane Roar, 2016 AFC Cup finalists JSW Bengaluru FC and 2015 AFC Cup winners Johor Darul Ta’zim – battle alongside the winners of the Preliminary Stage 1 tie between Global and Tampines.

The winners of the six Preliminary Stage 2 matches will then progress to the final hurdle in the Play-offs, before the eagerly anticipated group stage of Asia’s premier club competition, kicking off on February 20.

China.org.cn,

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