FK Istiklol vs Al Faisaly
Last year´s finalist FK Istiklol couldn´t start well their campaign in the competition after they got a 0-0 draw vs former competition winners Al Faisaly
Altyn Asyr vs Al Ahed
2016 Turkmenistan league and cup champions Altyn Asyr made an historic start to their campaign in the competition after they won 2-0 vs Lebanese champions Al Ahed.
The 1-0 came with an own goal from Al Ahed defender Nour Mansour, a total blopper and experienced player Amir Gurbani scored the 2nd goal came after another blopper from Nour Mansour who lost the ball and Amir Gurbani did a powerful shot to seal a magnific victory for the Turkmen side.
Lokomotiv Tashkent 1-1 Al Ittihad
Lokomotiv rescued a poin in the last minutes of the match and also this match served as the comeback of Server Djeparov in the competition.
Al Nassr 3-3 Bunyodkor
As it happened in the 1st match from the last season, Bunyodkor was winning comfortable but then Al Nassr started to full back until they found the equalizer few minutes before the match ends, another draw between both teams.
Pakhtakor 2-2 Al Hilal
In a very exciting and interesting match Pakhtakor with fighting spirit saved a point in the last minutes of the match after Khashimov found the equalizer minutes before the final whistle.
Al Alhi Jeddah 2-1 Nasaf
Nasa fought with everything to rescue a point vs Al Alhi but couldn´t hold the draw for more and they succumbed to the power of the Saudi club.
Urawa Red Diamonds vs Sydney FC
Urawa Reds started in perfect style their ACL campaign after winning 2-0 vs Sydney
Both teams face each other for the 1st time 9 years ago and in both matches they drew but this time Urawa prevailed and returned to the winning ways at home against an Australian team, last year they lose vs another Australian team(Brisbane Roar)
After the 0-0 from reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande vs Pohang Stellers, Urawa are placed as the unique leaders of their group.
Melbourne Victory vs Shanghai SIPG
Melbourne Victory opened their ACL campaign in a great way after winning to the Chinese debutants 2-1, Ingham and Berisha scored the goals for the Australian side who displayed a great playing level at the Melbourne Rectangular stadium.
After the 0-0 draw from Suwon vs Gamba, Melbourne Victory are placed as sole leaders of group G.
Altyn Asyr, Kaya, Ceres, Alhi Al Khaleel and Sheikh Jamal will make their maiden debut in the group stage while Istiklol are aiming to reach a 2nd consecutive final.
Istiklol face an interesting grou vs former winner Al Faisaly from Jordan, Naft Al Wehdat and Tripolibut the Tajiks have the experience and the team to progress beyond the group stage leaded by Mubin Ergashev.
Altyn Asyr becomes the 2nd club from Turkmenistan to compete in the group stage after Ahal debut last year, Altyn Asyr featured in the AFC Cup playoff stage but were eliminated by Al Saqr from Yemen, this time they have a tough group with Al Ahed and Al Wehdat who were eliminated in the ACL playoffs vs Al Ittihad Jeddah.
Sheikh Jamal earned their place in this stage thanks to winning the qualifying playoff back in August and they are placed vs Tampines Rovers who were eliminated vs Mohun Bagan in the ACL qualifying round, Selangor who are back since their last participation in 2014 and which in 2006 reached the quarterfinals.
Ceres previous appearance in Asian competition was in 2014 when they played the now defunct AFC President´s Cup group stage, group B and last year they played the AFC Cup qualifying playoff, they will meet other debutant like Sheikh Jamal.
Kaya from Philippines are placed with strong rivals as Kitchee and New Radiant, former semifinalists in this competition and Balesthier Khalsa who made their debut last year too.
AFC Cup action is back in Bangladesh after a decade of absence, the last 2 clubs from Bangladesh who played in this competition were Mohammedan and Brothers Union.
This year is historic because it will feature 2 clubs from Palestine, since Palestinian clubs entered the competition in 2014, only 1 Palestinian club was present in the group stage, also its historic for Laos because of the participation of Lao Toyota who made their debut last year.
This group is almost the same as last year´s group A, Lekhwiya, Bunyodkor and Al Nassr meets again in this group and it will be one of the most interesting groups of this edition, the other club involved is Zob Ahan which makes this group one of the most hardest.
Bunyodkor ended last in their group last year with only 1 point, but this time they are aiming to battle for a spot in the Round of 16, they have a mixed team with experienced and young players, former star Sardor Rashidov plays now in El Jaish from Qatar and they have a new player in their squad, Aleksandar Alempijević from Serbia.
Nasaf, the current surprise in Uzbekistan after winning the Uzbek Supercup last February 17th vs Pakhtakor 1-0 is placed in a very difficult group with Al Ain, Al Ahli Jeddah and El Jaish.
Nasaf won the Uzbekistan Cup last year and also finished 3rd in the Uzbek League table.
Nasaf will play again vs Al Alhi, last year they lose 2-1 in Saudi Arabia and drew 0-0 in Uzbekistan.
Nasaf played against another Al Alhi last year, this was from UAE and Nasaf drew 0-0 and in Tashkent they lose 1-0.
El Jaish count with Uzbek international and former Bunyodkor player Sardor Rashidov.
Al Ain reached the round of 16 last year but were eliminated by future finalists Al Alhi UAE on goal difference.
The group of death in my opinion because the high level of the teams involved, Sepahan and Al Ittihad are the favorites to qualify for the next stage and then comes Lokomotiv Tashkent who wants to improve because in their debut season in the group stage last year they ended last with 4 points.
Sepahan returns to the competition after 2 years of absence in which they couldn´t past beyond the group stage being placed in a tough group in that edition.
Al Ittihad are back in the big scene after 2 years of absence and they want to relive their glory days, they earned their place in the group stage after winning 2-1 vs Al Wehdat from Jordan. the last time they participated they reached the quarterfinals only being eliminated by Al Ain.
For Lokomotiv Tashkent this is their 2nd participation in a row in the competition and as it happened last year, they were the revelation of the Uzbek League last year but this year they will face difficult and very experienced opponents, they count with a very experienced squad like Ignatiy Nesterov, Timur Kapadze, Marat Bikmaev, Jasur Hasanov.
Al Nasr SC from Dubai last participation was in 2013, they qualified for this edition as the 2014-15 UAE President´s Cup winner and this year they will play again vs Lokomotiv, in 2013 both teams played in the playoff stage where the UAE club emerged as victors. when they played in the group stage they only got 1 point from their draw vs Al Alhi Jeddah.
Its an interesting club where Al Hilal is without doubt the favorites to win the group and also candidates for the title and where they will meet Pakhtakor again.
Pakhtakor are the other favorites in this group to qualify for the next stage and leaded by the Uzbek international Igor Sergeev they aim to past the group stage, they count with a balanced squad with many experienced and young players and they haven´t qualified for the Round of 16 since 2009
This is the 3rd time in a row that Tractorsazi plays the ACL but they haven´t past beyond the group stage, in their previous campaigns ended last in their group and now this year they want to change that and fight to qualify for the group stage but they know that they are in a difficult group and they main opponents to defeat are Al Hilal
Al Jazira comes to this stage after winning in the playoff stage on penalties to Al Sadd from Qatar.
Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande are placed with Korean heavyweights Pohang Steelers, 2007 ACL champions Urawa Red Diamonds from Japan and Sydney FC from Australia who returns to the competition after 5 years of absence.
Guanghou Evergrande are looking to defend successfully their title and they aim t win it for the 2nd year in a row and a 3rd in total but they must play in a difficult group vs Pohang, Urawa and Sydney, their main stars Elkeson and Dario Conca have gone to Shanghai SIPG who will also play ACL.
Guangzhou Evergrande keeps most of the players that won the ACL title last year, they have added into their ranks the experienced Colombian forward Jackson Martinez.
Urawa Reds will be looking to improve what they did from their irregular campaign last year in whih they only got 4 points, they know it won´t be an easy group but they are going to find some inspiration from their glory days in 2007 to past the group stage and reach the final stages. They conserve almost the same team from last year but their have added Slovenian international Branko Ilic who comes from Kazakh champions FC Astana.
Pohang comes from winning Hanoi in the playoff stage and they are serious contenders to past the group stage and even to win the title too.
Sydney FC will be looking to improve what they did the last time they have played ACL, in their 2 times they played this competition they haven´t gone beyond the group stage and they are aiming to do that having a team with many experienced players like David Carney who will play the ACL campaign for the 2nd time with the Sky Blues and young and talented players too.like Robert Stambolziev.