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Starts in a week and a half, so I figured I could open a thread to discuss it (and perhaps some lower level AFC competitions - AFC Cup and President's Cup, but I doubt there is much interest).

The draw has already occurred - 7 teams from lower level Asian leagues will playoff for two spots, while the six eliminated teams drop to the AFC Cup. (It was originally 8 teams, the team from Kuwait failed to meet stadium criteria.) The playoffs are divided into East and West and are single ties, so big advantage to the home teams.

West

Al-Karamah (Syria) - Al-Wahda (UAE)
Churchill Brothers (India) gets a bye to the final, but will have to travel to the winner of the semifinal.

East

Singapore Armed Forces - Sriwijaya (Indonesia)
Da Nang (Vietnam) - Muang Thong United (Thailand)

The semis will be played on January 30 and the finals on February 6. I figure Al-Karamah (ACL runners-up not too long ago) will qualify from the west while the East could be anybody, but I will go ahead and guess SAF.

Also, the group stage:

Group A
Al-Ahli (Saudi Arabia)
Al-Gharafa (Qatar)
Al-Jazira (UAE)
Esteghlal (Iran)

Group B
Zob Ahan (Iran)
Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)
Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan)
Playoff Winner - West

Group C
Al-Ain (UAE)
Sepahan (Iran)
Al-Shabab (Saudi Arabia)
Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan)

Group D
Al-Sadd (Qatar)
Al-Ahli (UAE)
Mes Kerman (Iran)
Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

Group E
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (S. Korea)
Melbourne Victory (Australia)
Beijing Guoan (China)
Kawasaki Frontale (Japan)

Group F
Kashima Antlers (Japan)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (S. Korea)
Persipura Jayapura (Indonesia)
Changchun Yatai (China)

Group G
Henan Construction (China)
Gamba Osaka (Japan)
Suwon Samsung Blue Wings (S. Korea)
Playoff Winner - East

Group H
Adelaide United (Australia)
Shandong Luneng (China)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan)
Pohang Steelers (S. Korea)

Group B looks to be very tough, especially if Al-Karamah qualify, but I think the toughest is probably Group F with champions from Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and the runners-up from China. Group H could also be very interesting. I figure Pohang will qualify, but it could be a toss-up for that second spot.

Thoughts? Anyone who knows more about the players that can say something about potential stars in this tournament?
 

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well, the Indonesian team Persipura plays an attractive attacking football in the domestic league. They are from Papua (Indonesian New Guinea) where local footballers are known for their superb physical ability and raw talents, so a lot of speed and tricks are to be expected. I don't think they will qualify, but their game promises goals and opponents could find it hard against them on away matches. One let down is that their home stadium is still in renovation, so there's a possibility that they play their home games in Bung Karno stadium (Jakarta). There's only a few Papuan in Jakarta and plane tickets are expensive, so that's a problem. But hey, probably i'll watch them live..:D
Their top players are Indonesian NT striker Boaz Solossa and his partner from Brazil, Alberto Goncalves.
 

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There's only a few Papuan in Jakarta and plane tickets are expensive, so that's a problem. .
on local wages sadly though luckily things are improving economically but internal flights on Air Asia for European wages. :eek: I couldn't believe some of the prices when I saw them on the Air Asia site.

Dream vacation: all those SE Asian capital cities for virutally no money after you've paid the big lump 550 to 800 euros for a ticket from Europe to SE Asia.

Return flight: Jakarta - Kuala Lumpur - 45 euros
Jakarta - Surabaya - 35 euros
Jakarta - Ho Chi Minh City - 45 euros :howler:
Kuala Lumpur - Vientaine - 44 euros :howler:
Kuala Lumpur - Manila - 36 euros :howler::howler:

and during normal times too. Here you'd only get dirt cheap flights during inconvenient hours (2am arrival or the sorts lol or Ryanair lol) and 70/80 euros is the standard fee for the shortest flight (Ams - London)

Air Asia is reliable right? I mean no flying coffin. I mean they've never been banned from flying into the EU like Garuda :pp (though they're coming back yay lol) or Pakistani Air. I still can't believe those prices.

Ok back to football :pp
 

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Garuda's back, Europe! Be prepared!! :D
Yeah, Air Asia is reliable.. and definitely more civilized than the friggin ryanair! :pp
Btw, what parts of Indonesia have you visited, Wally?
 

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Ryanair - always late and you stand there in the hallway for half an hour like a bunch of schoolkids intent in rushing into a bus :pp

What's with Garuda charging KLMlike prices btw? shouldn't they be trying to do a Malaysian Air? go for cheaper prices and get the cheapskate market like me? :pp

Only been to Jakarta and Bogor - I'll be looking to expand my scope next time I visit :D maybe have a trek. Visit Krakatau or go to one of the volcanos like the Tangkuban Perahu. All nearby Jakarta.

The East - Borobudur, Yogyakarta, Surabaya if I have more time. Oh well, everything really. Bali, Lombok and Sumatra (Toba) why not :pp and want to see how things are in Aceh are with the sharia
 

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It would be surprising if Adelaide could compete well in their group, despite that Pohang have lost Farias and Denilson. They have been struggling all season and I believe lie bottom of the table. It will be interesting to see Sanfrecce's involvement, for the first time ever in this tournament, and J-League fans were very happy for them. Their home stadium is quite small and compact, IIRC housing around 15,000, which is similar to Adelaide's.

Melbourne have a better chance but it will still be very tough. Kawasaki finished 2nd, Beijing are Chinese champions while Seongnam - 3rd. Quite an even group. Victory were domestic leaders but have slipped to second, something Sydney have taken advantage of. Still they can recover and claim the big prize in the finals.
 

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Wow, big loss for Pohang.. their strikers apart from Denilson looked rusty back in December's CWC. :pp Hopefully the new coach could maintain the team's discipline/organizational scheme. Where did they go btw, Farias and Denilson?

Ryanair - always late and you stand there in the hallway for half an hour like a bunch of schoolkids intent in rushing into a bus :pp
The only thing I like about Ryanair is probably when the plane touches the runway for landing and all the passengers begin to cheer and applaud lol.. :party: :D

What's with Garuda charging KLMlike prices btw? shouldn't they be trying to do a Malaysian Air? go for cheaper prices and get the cheapskate market like me? :pp
I'll second that.. :D
From my sister's holiday pics, Toba looked great btw.. (I should've been there too if not for the stupid exam :scream:)
 

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Past failures power Sanf’s ACL ambitions
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 11:48

KUALA LUMPUR: Their track record may belie their lofty dreams but Sanfrecce Hiroshima are not about to let it dampen their quest for glory.

AFC Champions League newcomers Sanfrecce have set an ambitious target of winning this season’s ACL and finishing in the top four of the J-League.

Such targets may seem unrealistic for a team who only two seasons ago were playing in the second-tier J2 division – their second relegation in the past nine years.

But after winning the 2008 J2 title, “Sanf” have undergone an amazing turnaround, finishing fourth in the 2009 J.League.

“This shows that although there was a time when we were down, we were never out,” Sanfrecce Operation Manager Hirokazu Tsunemori told the-afc.com.

“The relegations have only made us stronger. Our players have matured faster than expected. They are mentally tougher than many other J.League teams, because of our setbacks," said Tsunemori, who is in Kuala Lumpur for the AFC's ACL Workshop.

“I truly believe that we have gained more than we have lost.”

Only the top three teams from the J.League qualify for the ACL 2010 but Sanfrecce earned their place because Gamba Osaka, who finished third, also won the Emperor’s Cup.

Tsunemori admitted his team were lucky to qualify through the "back door", but vowed to make the most of this opportunity.

He said: “Thanks to Gamba Osaka for making our dream come true. We cherish the chance of playing in the highest level of Asian club football and we will fight to the end.

“Peoples may laugh of our naivety but not me. I don’t see any reason why we can’t be ACL Champs in our first try. We will be trying our best to reach the top of J.League. If you dare to dream, nothing is impossible.”

They are coached by Austrian Mihailo Petrovic, who has been in charge since June 2006, and powered by three Japanese national team players - Shusaku Nishikawa (goalkeeper), Tomoaki Makino (defender) and Hisato Sato (forward).

http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league/26547-past-failures-power-sanfs-acl-ambitions
 

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Let see who you think will go through

1 point for every right team

Moi:

Group A
Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia)
Al Gharafa (Qatar)
Al Jazira (UAE)
Esteghlal (Iran)

Group B
Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)
Al Wahda (UAE)
Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan)
Zobahan (Iran)

Group C
Al Ain (UAE)
Al Shabab (Saudi Arabia)
Sepahan (Iran)
Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan)

Group D
Al Ahli (UAE)
Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)
Al Sadd (Qatar)

Mes Kerman (Iran)

Group E
Beijing Guoan (China)
Kawasaki Frontale (Japan)
Melbourne Victory (Australia)

Seongnam Ilhwa (Korea Republic)

Group F
Changchun Yatai (China)
Jeonbuk Motors (Korea Republic)
Kashima Antlers (Japan)

Persipura (Indonesia):strong:

Group G
Gamba Osaka (Japan)
Henan Jianye (China)
Singapore Armed Forces (Singapore)
Suwon Bluewings (Korea Republic)

Group H
Adelaide United (Australia)
Pohang Steelers (Korea Republic)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan)
Shandong Luneng (China)

Guess I'm underestimating Chinese club football.

So many UAE sides btw :confused:
 

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I can see with most of your selections but for your final one. I expect Sanfrecce to qualify with Pohang, indeed it wouldn't surprise me if Shandong outperformed Adelaide, they have been very poor.

Thanks for your post!
 

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Guess I'm underestimating Chinese club football.
I haven't heard great things about their league, but I think Beijing are a definite chance of advancing from their group. It's quite an even group with Kawasaki the favoured, but to be honest our league isn't much. If you watched it you'd think it was crap. Seongnam, third in Korea while Guoan are Champions [granted K-League is superior]. Melbourne finished in second. Beijing maybe finish second.
 

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on local wages sadly though luckily things are improving economically but internal flights on Air Asia for European wages. :eek: I couldn't believe some of the prices when I saw them on the Air Asia site.

Dream vacation: all those SE Asian capital cities for virutally no money after you've paid the big lump 550 to 800 euros for a ticket from Europe to SE Asia.

Return flight: Jakarta - Kuala Lumpur - 45 euros
Jakarta - Surabaya - 35 euros
Jakarta - Ho Chi Minh City - 45 euros :howler:
Kuala Lumpur - Vientaine - 44 euros :howler:
Kuala Lumpur - Manila - 36 euros :howler::howler:

and during normal times too. Here you'd only get dirt cheap flights during inconvenient hours (2am arrival or the sorts lol or Ryanair lol) and 70/80 euros is the standard fee for the shortest flight (Ams - London)

Air Asia is reliable right? I mean no flying coffin. I mean they've never been banned from flying into the EU like Garuda :pp (though they're coming back yay lol) or Pakistani Air. I still can't believe those prices.

Ok back to football :pp
At the start of last year I got a flight on Airasia from Phnom Penh to Bangkok one way for what would have been 7 or 8 euros (it was AUS$15 at a time when there was about two aussie dollars to one euro). Mind you, to fly out of Cambodia there's a US$25 departure tax, payable only in cash in that currency. You had to go up to a counter to pay it and get a stamp on your boarding pass which would allow you to continue through security checks; the amount of tourists who had no idea about it and simply couldn't pay was quite funny, I'd had no idea myself until luckily finding out on wikitravel a few days before. On the same day, a woman directly in front of me at the check-in counter discovered her booking was for March 2nd and not February 2nd, lol, the staff simply turned her away "Come back in one month".
 

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:howler:

Most of the SEA countries have those departure tax thing, so yeah, plz be prepared.. :D
 

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Btw, yesterday's Group F results:

Persipura 1-4 Jeonbuk Motors
Kashima Antlers 1-0 Changchun Yatai
 

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Some interesting results on the opening match day:

Adelaide United 1 Pohang Steelers 0

I wasn't aware Adelaide came into this match with two consecutive victories. lol That and their new new recruits have given them some much-needed vigour, and they played some very attractive, flowing football.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-1 Shandong Luneng

Another surprise. Sanfrecce's Asian CL debut was an unpleasant one. Didn't see it. Well done Shandong, and now the teams I favoured least of all sit top.

Suwon S.B. 0 - 0 Gamba Osaka

Not a bad result for Gamba on a really mixed day for J-League clubs.

Henan Siwu 0 - 0 Singapore Armed Forces

I may be wrong, but I think that Henan, like Sanfrecce, is making its debut? Not long ago they were in very modest surroundings, a lower division, but their manager has dragged them up to this level. Still this is a game they could have won. Good result for Singapore Armed Forces [...].

No goals in the group!

Kashima Antlers 1 - 0 Changchun Yatai

Persipura 1 - 4 Jeonbuk FC

Strange, some normal results.

Seongnam Ilhwa 2 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale

Beijing Guoan 1 - 0 Melbourne Victory

This was an interesting and even group, everyone has a chance. Unfortunately I missed the second game due to varying circumstances.

I don't know as much about the other clubs.
 

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Can't say I agree on that point, Japanese Characters, seemed like pretty woeful defending to me. Beijing's goal is my favourite.

Bad matchday for the Japanese and Saudis, the two traditional powerhouses of the tournament. Good to see a revival of the fortunes of the Iranian clubs.

I think Adelaide will be able to get out of this group, but I dunno about Melbourne. To me it always seems like the better A-League side always gets drawn in the tougher group.

I mean last time these same two clubs participated in '08, back when only the top team went through, Melbourne had Gamba in their group, and last year I actually thought Central Coast played much better football in the group stage than Newcastle, but they had Pohang and Kawasaki in front of them while in Newcastle's group Ulsan weren't even really committed (I recall them sending a reserve team to Australia) and Beijing were there own worst enemy, so the Jets pretty much finished second by default.
 

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I do wonder if and when Australia will be afforded more qualifying spots for this tournament. I remember when the restructuring of the tournament was done a few years back, we met the criteria to have four teams, but our allocation was reduced to two on account of a rule that said one league couldn't have more than 30 percent of its clubs participating in ACL (which is reasonable, I do admit, it would have been crazy to have four Aussie sides out of eight quallify). But with ten teams this season we should now have three spots for 2011, but I understand it will probably stay at two.

In all honesty, I don't want to have us handed more spots if it means teams from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are going to be frozen out. I want them to have the opportunity to continue to have this exposure. They are all huge developing markets for football, and A-League clubs have already tasted defeat at the hands of Indonesian and Thai opponents so it wouldn't be fair of me to dismiss them.

What I'd prefer to see is China's allocation cut back. 4 spots is too much for them! They have had almost zero impact in this tournament, especially since it became the Asian Champions League. You have to go back more than a decade to even find their last appearance in a final in the old Asian Club Championship. IT's ridiculous that they have twice as many spots as Australia and the same amount as Korea and Japan, the two countries whose clubs have had a monopoly on this tournament the last four years. I think 3 spots each for Australia and China would be better.
 
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