The AFC Champions League, widely known as the Asian Champions League, is an annual continental club football competition that was established in 2002. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the sanctioning body of the Asian Champions League which is the predecessor of the Asian Club Championship which was formed in 1967.
Club Hapoel Tel Aviv became the first Asian Champions League title holder after defeating Selangor FA and Israel was the first country to host the 1st edition of the AFC Champions League. The league established its popularity, because of which various countries took turns to host the AFC Champions League.
The Comeback of the AFC Champions League
The 1972 edition had to be canceled due to political reasons and Israel teams were expelled from the confederation. In 1985, Asia’s premier tournament made its return, with South Korea hosting the season. Since 2009 edition, a total of 32 clubs compete in the round-robin group stage of the competition. The club winning the AFC Champions League will qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup.
Which Team has Won the AFC Champions League the most?
The South Korean professional football club Pohang Steelers is the most successful club in the competition, with a total of three titles. The Saudi Arabian professional club Al-Hilal holds the most number of runners-up (4 times).
Kashima Antlers, the Japanese professional association football club is the reigning champion of the 2018 AFC Champions League. It was their first win of the Asian League after defeating Persepolis in the finals.
The table below shows the list of AFC Champions League winners since the inception of the league in 1967.
Complete list of the AFC Champions League Winners
Though the number of teams entering the Champions League has varied, the qualifying format has remained the same. Most of the clubs from the East Asian country, South Korea have been qualified for the AFC Champions League (11 times), whereas the second East Asian country to produce professional teams that got qualified for the AFC Champions League is Japan (7 times).
|1||1967||Israel||Hapoel Tel Aviv|
|2||1969||Israel||Maccabi Tel Aviv|
|4||1971||Israel||Maccabi Tel Aviv|
|6||1985–86||South Korea||Daewoo Royals|
|14||1993–94||Thailand||Thai Farmers Bank|
|15||1994–95||Thailand||Thai Farmers Bank|
|16||1995||South Korea||Ilhwa Chunma|
|17||1996–97||South Korea||Pohang Steelers|
|18||1997–98||South Korea||Pohang Steelers|
|21||2000–01||South Korea||Suwon Samsung Bluewings|
|22||2001–02||South Korea||Suwon Samsung Bluewings|
|23||2002–03||United Arab Emirates||Al Ain|
|26||2006||South Korea||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors|
|27||2007||Japan||Urawa Red Diamonds|
|29||2009||South Korea||Pohang Steelers|
|30||2010||South Korea||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma|
|32||2012||South Korea||Ulsan Hyundai|
|34||2014||Australia||Western Sydney Wanderers|
|36||2016||South Korea||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors|
|37||2017||Japan||Urawa Red Diamonds|