0614 GMT January 16, 2022
Next month's action will be eagerly anticipated, with the West Zone knockout stage to be played in Saudi Arabia while Korea Republic will host the East Zone, the-afc.com reported.
The final on November 23 will be contested in Saudi Arabia. As the countdown begins to crown this year's ACL winners, the-afc.com provided an early preview of the quarter-final match-ups.
Al Wahda FSCC (UAE) vs. Al Nassr (KSA)
The only quarter-final to feature a club that has not won the ACL, the meeting between Al Wahda FSCC from the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr does not suffer from a lack of intrigue.
Riyadh-based Al Nassr have long lived in the shadow of rivals Al Hilal SFC and came agonisingly close to being crowned kings of Asia in 1995, when they lost in extra-time in the final of the Asian Club Championship to Ilhwa Chunma of Korea Republic.
They did, however, win the 1998 Asian Super Cup to be the continent’s first representatives at the FIFA Club World Championship in 2000 and went close to rekindling those glory days last year, only to lose in the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League to Islamic Republic of Iran's Persepolis FC.
Al Wahda, meanwhile, return to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007 when, during a golden period for the club, the side from Abu Dhabi made the second of a pair of appearances in the knockout rounds of the competition.
That 2007 campaign ended at the semi-final stage, where they were defeated by Sepahan from Islamic Republic of Iran, while three years earlier Al Wahda also reached the last eight.
The Al Wahda-Al Nassr match-up promises to be a thriller, with both sides equally confident of their chances.
Persepolis FC (IRN) vs. Al Hilal SFC (KSA)
A bone fide clash of Asian heavyweights, the meeting between Al Hilal and Persepolis brings together two clubs with genuine claims on being the biggest and best in the continent, with vast support bases and bulging trophy cabinets.
Al Hilal go into the contest looking to return to the form that saw the club capture the AFC Champions League title in 2019 as the Riyadh-based giants finally shook off almost two decades of disappointment at continental level to claim the title.
Persepolis are not without their motivations in this competition too, having finished runners-up in 2018 and 2020 – behind Japan’s Kashima Antlers and Korea Republic's Ulsan Hyundai respectively – as the Tehran Reds look to win the championship for the first time.
The two clubs are no strangers on the continental stage having met one another on eight previous occasions, with the most recent coming in 2017. That ended in success for Al Hilal as they advanced to the final with a 6-2 aggregate win over the Iranians before losing to Urawa Red Diamonds in the decider.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) vs. Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
With four AFC Champions League titles between them in the last 15 years, the meeting between the K-League giants is guaranteed to be one of the most intriguing match-ups of the quarter-finals.
While the teams are great rivals domestically, with the pair sharing a 0-0 draw when they met in a top-of-the-table clash at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium in the K-League last week, Ulsan and Jeonbuk have not met in the AFC Champions League since the semi-finals of the 2006 competition.
Then, Jeonbuk ran out 6-4 aggregate winners with a 4-1 second leg victory turning the tables in their favour before going on to secure the first of their two continental crowns, with the second coming a decade later.
Ulsan, for their part, won the AFC Champions League title for the first time in 2012 and reclaimed the trophy last year with victory over Persepolis in the final in Doha.
Pohang Steelers (KOR) vs. Nagoya Grampus (JPN)
Three-time Asian club champions Pohang Steelers return to the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League after a seven-year absence as they aim to claim the continental title for the first time since 2009.
With back-to-back Asian Club Championship wins from 1997 and 1998 already on their record, the K-League side are looking to restore the club’s former glories after spending much of the last decade in the shadows of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Ulsan Hyundai.
They take on a Nagoya Grampus side that is returning to the latter stages of the competition for the first time since 2009 when, under Dragan Stojkovic, the J-League side were eliminated in the semi-finals.
The teams will be facing off in the 2021 edition of the ACL for the third time after they were both drawn in Group G, with Nagoya winning the first meeting 3-0 in Bangkok before they shared a 1-1 draw in the final round of matches to both advance.