The 2016 AFC Champions League starts on Wednesday, when Indian side Mohun Bagan take on Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in the opening tie of this year’s competition.
The first preliminary round tie in the eastern zone of the Champions League will take place at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium and the winners will take on Shandong Luneng FC of China PR in the second preliminary round at the Jinan Olympic Stadium.
In 2015, Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande were crowned champions, shattering records for the competition with attendance figures of more than 2.25 million and television audiences of around 300 million.
Shin Man Gil, AFC Director of Competitions, said that the AFC Champions League was now firmly established as one of the world’s leading club competitions.
“Last year we saw that the clubs in the AFC Champions League were growing in stature and standard,” said Shin.
“The quality of football continues to grow and the competition was graced last season with some spectacular goals that will live long in the memory of the many millions who attended or tuned in.
“The quality of the Asian club game can also be measured by the fact that the two teams from this region came third (Hiroshima Sanfrecce) and fourth (Guangzhou Evergrande) in the FIFA World Club Cup 2015 that was held in Japan at the end of last year.”
The full preliminary fixtures are (match times are currently stated as the LOCAL VENUE time):
Preliminary Stage 1
January 27, 2016 (7pm)
MOHUN BAGAN (IND) vs TAMPINES ROVERS (SIN)
Venue: Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium (Salt Lake Stadium), Kolkata
Preliminary Stage 2
February 2, 2016 (3pm)
SHANDONG LUNENG FC (CHN) vs MOHUN BAGAN (IND) or TAMPINES ROVERS (SIN)
Venue: Jinan Olympic Sports Centre, Jinan
HANOI T&T (VIE) vs KITCHEE (HKG) (6pm)
Venue: Hang Day Stadium, Hanoi
CHONBURI FC (THA) vs YANGON UNITED (MYA) (7pm)
Venue: Chonburi Stadium, Chonburi
MUANGTHONG UNITED (THA) vs JOHOR DARUL TA’ZIM (MAS) (7.30pm)
Venue: Thunderdome Stadium, Nonthaburi