Established in 1967, the AFC Champions League is the biggest club football competition in Asia.
Called the Asian Club Championship prior to the 2002-03 season, the AFC Champions League comprises league champions and cup winners of Asian Football Federation’s member associations.
The AFC Champions League starts in January-February every year, with the final scheduled in November.
Before 2002, only winners of the national leagues and the reigning champions of the competition were allowed to take part in it. However, the rule was changed in 2002 to allow national cup champions to participate in the continental showpiece.
Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal are the reigning champions of the AFC Champions League, having beaten Pohang Steelers 2-0 in the final of the 2021 edition. Interestingly, Al-Hilal have reached the AFC Champions League final eight times - the most by any club in the competition.
Meanwhile, Thai Farmers Bank, Pohang Steelers, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Al-Ittihad are the four clubs that have managed to defend their AFC Champions League title.
Al-Ahli, FC Seoul and Persepolis are the only three clubs that have reached the AFC Champions League finals more than once but have failed to lift the trophy.
Since the AFC Champions League started in 1967, there have been 24 different winners.
South Korean clubs have clinched the title on 12 occasions while Japanese outfits have won the title seven times. Saudi Arabia-based clubs are third on the list with six trophies.
Who won the first AFC Champions League?
Israeli football club Hapoel Tel Aviv were the inaugural champions of AFC Champions League, having defeated Malaysia’s Selangor 2-1 in the final in 1967.
Who has won the most AFC Champions League titles?
Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal are the most decorated team in the AFC Champions League, having won the title four times. Al-Hilal lifted the trophy in 1991, 2000, 2019 and 2021.
AFC Champions League winners list
|1967||Hapoel Tel Aviv||Selangor|
|1969||Maccabi Tel Aviv||Yangzee FC|
|1970||Taj Tehran||Hapoel Tel Aviv|
|1971||Maccabi Tel Aviv||Aliyat Al-Shorta|
|1989-90||Liaoning||Nissan Yokohama FC|
|1993-94||Thai Farmers Bank||Oman Club|
|1994-95||Thai Farmers Bank||Al-Arabi|
|1996-97||Pohang Steelers||Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma|
|1997-98||Pohang Steelers||Dalian Wanda|
|2000-01||Suwon Samsung Bluewings||Jubilo Iwata|
|2001-02||Suwon Samsung Bluewings||Anyang LG Cheetahs|
|2002-03||Al-Ain||BEC Tero Sasana|
|2004||Al-Ittihad||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma|
|2006||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors||Al-Karamah|
|2007||Urawa Red Diamonds||Sepahan|
|2008||Gamba Osaka||Adelaide United|
|2010||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma||Zob Ahan|
|2011||Al-Sadd||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors|
|2013||Guangzhou Evergrande||FC Seoul|
|2014||Western Sydney Wanderers||Al-Hilal|
|2016||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors||Al-Ain|
|2017||Urawa Red Diamonds||Al-Hilal|
|2019||Al-Hilal||Urawa Red Diamonds|
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Featured photo: Fayez Nureldine / AFP