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.