Nearly a dozen countries will participate in the AFC Champions League (ACL) for the first time under an expanded competition format, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officially announced on Saturday.
The revamped tournament includes a three-round playoff stage, which will feature clubs from many countries which had in recent years only participated in the second-tier AFC Cup.
Countries such as Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, which had previously enjoyed four direct berths in the group stage, will now receive three direct berths and one third round playoff spot.
Meanwhile, representatives of Myanmar, India, Lebanon, Syria, and other countries will need to qualify for the group stage through three playoff rounds.
The group stage will remain comprised of 32 teams divided into East and West regions.
3+1: Japan, South Korea
0+1: Indonesia, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Malaysia, India, Singapore
3+1: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uzbekistan
0+1: Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria