The AFC Cup is an annual International association football competition between domestic clubs run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Qualification to the competition is available to clubs from AFC-affiliated countries that fall into the AFC's 'developing nations' category as laid out in their 'Vision Asia' document. Countries which are 'emerging' nations are eligible to participate in the AFC Cup, whereas countries which have better infrastructure and football prowess are entered into the AFC Champions League.
|Number of teams||36|
|Related competitions||AFC Champions League|
|Current champions||Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (3rd title)|
|Most successful club(s)|| Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya|
(3 titles each)
|2019 AFC Cup|
The 'developing nations' are the 34 'next-best' countries that lie outside the top-12 countries in the AFC region which send their clubs to the more prestigious AFC Champions League. Before the reform in competition format that took place in 2009, the two competitions were not interlinked as the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League are in Europe, and AFC Champions League losers did not compete in the Cup. Following the reform in 2009, finalists of the AFC Cup meeting AFC's criteria and certain other eligible teams are allowed to compete in the qualifying round of AFC Champions League with the losers demoted to play in the AFC Cup.
Al-Kuwait and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya are the most successful club in the competition's history, having won three titles each. Clubs from Kuwait have won four titles, making them the most successful nation in the competition. Ever since the inauguration of the competition in 2004, the finalists of each edition have been dominated by clubs from West Asia until 2015 when the Malaysian team Johor Darul Ta'zim from East Asia became one of the finalists and became champions. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya are the current champions after defeating Altyn Asyr in the final to win the 2018 AFC Cup, becoming the first ever club to win the trophy on three successive occasions.
The AFC Cup began in 2004 as a second tier competition to relate back to the AFC Champions League as 14 countries that had developing status competed in the first competition with 18 teams being nominated. Group A, B, C had West and Central Asian teams while the other two groups had east and South East Asia. The winners and three runners-up would then head to the knock-out stage where it was a random draw in who was going to play. Al-Jaish took the first AFC Cup after they defeated fellow Syrian opponents Al-Wahda on away goals.
In 2005, 18 teams competed from nine nations with the nations still being allowed to choose from one or two teams entering. After Syrian teams left the AFC Cup to try at the Champions League for four years, Al-Faisaly defeated Al-Nejmeh in the final. With it, Jordanian teams would win the next two AFC Cup seasons with Bahrain joining the league while Bangladesh was relegated to the AFC President's Cup until the tournament's abolition in 2014.
Al-Muharraq would break the trend in 2008 as they competed in the last two-legged final before it headed back into a one-leg system which still runs to this day.
Some changes were applied in terms of teams and format for the 2017 AFC Cup. A total of 36 teams participate in the group stage (12 each from West Asia and ASEAN, and 4 each from East Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia). The final will be played as a one-off match.
Teams from only 27 AFC countries have reached the group stage of the AFC Cup. The allocation of those teams by member country is listed below; asterisks represent occasions where at least one team was eliminated in qualification for the group stage. 32 AFC countries have had teams participate in qualification, and countries that have never had teams reach the group stage are not shown.
|Travel Subsidy |
|Knockout stages||Zonal Champion: $100,000||$40,000|
|Final||Champions: $1.5 million
Results and statisticsEdit
Performance by clubsEdit
|Club||Winners||Runners-up||Years won||Years runners-up|
|Al-Kuwait||3||1||2009, 2012, 2013||2011|
|Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya||3||0||2016, 2017, 2018|
|Johor Darul Ta'zim||1||0||2015|
Performance by nationsEdit
All-time top goalscorersEdit
- As of 10 November 2018
|Aleksandar Đurić||Geylang United, Singapore Armed Forces, Tampines Rovers|
|Amjad Radhi||Erbil SC, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya|
|Rico||Al-Muharraq, Al-Riffa, Al-Hidd|
|Ali Ashfaq||Club Valencia, New Radiant, VB Sports Club|
|Bader Al-Mutawa||Qadsia SC|
|Hammadi Ahmad||Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya|
|Mohammed Ghaddar||Nejmeh, Kelantan FA|
Like the AFC Champions League, the AFC Cup is sponsored by a group of multinational corporations, in contrast to the single main sponsor typically found in national top-flight leagues.
The tournament's current main sponsors are:
- beIN Sports
- Fly Emirates
- QNB Group
|ASEAN||Fox Sports Asia|
|Canada||Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|
|Indonesia||MNC Media (featuring All Indonesian teams only, starting from group stages)|
|Kyrgyzstan||KTRK (featuring All Kyrgyz teams only)|
|Tajikistan||Varzish TV (featuring All Tajik teams only)|
|United States||Eleven Sports Network|
- AFC Cup 2004
- AFC Cup 2019 Competition Regulations. Asian Football Confederatopm. p. 57. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
- "AFC increases prize money for 2018 club competitions". The AFC. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "体奥动力接手，PPTV独家直播全部亚冠赛事 -懂球帝". dongqiudi.com. Retrieved 28 February 2017.