When the AFC Cup 2022 Group Stage kicks off on Wednesday, clubs from all over Asia will be competing for regional and continental supremacy (May 18).
The South and West Zones of the competition, held in a series of centralised hubs, will kick off the 2022 edition, with the Central, East, and ASEAN Zones following suit from June 24 to 30.
The AFC Cup 2022 will feature 38 teams divided into 10 groups, all vying for the coveted club title in the eagerly anticipated Final on October 22.
Local and Group D contenders ATK Mohun Bagan FC will face Gokulam Kerala FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata, before Maziya Sports & Recreation of the Maldives take on Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings four hours later.
In the traditionally strong West Zone, Oman’s Al Seeb Club will open their campaign against Jableh of Syria at the Al-Seeb Stadium, before Lebanon’s Al Ansar battle Kuwait SC later that night.
Meanwhile, in Group B, hosts Arabi SC will face Bahrain’s Al Riffa at the Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in the evening, before Shabab Al Khalil of Palestine faces Dhofar Club of Oman at the same venue later that night, according to a release from the Asian Football Confederation.
Tishreen of Syria will face Palestinian club Hilal Alquds at the Al Muharraq Stadium at 6pm, before hosts East Riffa, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of their compatriots and 2021 champions Muharraq Club, face Nejmeh SC of Lebanon at 10pm.
When the Central Zone kicks off on June 24, Dushanbe and Bishkek will host Groups E and F, respectively, while Bali United FC, Kuala Lumpur City FC, and Viettel FC will all have home advantage in their respective ASEAN Zone groups, with the East Zone’s Group J to be held on neutral territory in Buriram, Thailand.
In addition to the chance to win continental glory, the AFC Cup 2022 offers substantial prize money, with the winner receiving USD 1.5 million and the runner-up receiving USD 750,000.
Since its inception in 2004, the AFC Cup has provided clubs from across the continent with access to top-level competition and has consistently produced thrilling action, with teams from seven different nations lifting the trophy since 2010.
(Inputs from IANS)