AFC Champions League, Asia’s premier club football competition, is set to get bigger starting 2021 season with the number of participating clubs to be increased from 32 to 40.
This also means that there will be greater representation from Southeast Asia as well in the ACL with an extra group to be played under the East Asia Zone of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) continental club championship.
The top 12 associations from both East and West Asia Zones as per the AFC Club Competitions Rankings will enter the AFC Champions League in 2021 and with Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar all part of the top 12, they are set to play a major role in the expanded tournament.
Following ACL expansion starting from 2021, here are the slots distribution for east zone.
China and Japan: 3+1 each
Korea Republic and Thailand: 2+2 each
Korea DPR*, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore: 1+0 each
Hong Kong and Myanmar: 0+1 each
— Bear (@abearfromSEA) December 3, 2019
Based on the current AFC Club Competitions Rankings, Thailand are set to hit the jackpot with four of their clubs getting an entry into the ACL 2021.
Thailand currently have one club in the group stages and an additional two clubs in the preliminary stages of the ACL 2020, but their participation will increase in 2021 with two clubs getting a direct entry to the group stages and another two beginning their campaign in the play-off stages.
Incidentally, this will be the same amount of representation Korea Republic will have in ACL 2021.
Philippines who are the ASEAN No. 2 in the current AFC Rankings will get a direct group stage entry in 2021 as well as a club in the play-off stages.
BREAKING: AFC send official letter to FA Thailand to confirm that Thailand will get 2+2 quota in AFC Champions League 2021. pic.twitter.com/xm3HARmQxZ
— All Things Thai Football 🇹🇭 (@ThaiFootballs) December 3, 2019
Malaysia will retain their direct group stage entry in the AFC Champions League while Singapore and Vietnam will also have one club guaranteed in the group stages of the competition.
Myanmar, who are the 12th best side in East Asia, will get an entry to the qualification play-offs while Indonesia miss out on a spot altogether, based on current ranking points.
Country name Group Stage Slots Play-off Slots
China PR 3 1
Japan 3 1
Korea Republic 2 2
Thailand 2 2
Australia 1 2
Philippines 1 1
DPR Korea 1 0
Vietnam 1 0
Malaysia 1 0
Singapore 1 0
Hong Kong 0 1
Myanmar 0 1