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Сезон

Qualification:
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53 teams from 46 AFC member countries are eligible to participate.
The countries are ranked according to their performance in the AFC club competitions.

Teams are split into 5 geographical zones, based on their geographical criteria, with each zone receiving a pre-determined number of direct group stage slots and qualification slots.
Qualification games are scheduled based on the number of teams that participate.

Slot allocations:
- West Asia and ASEAN: 3 groups of 4 teams each in group stage; of which 9 direct Group stage slots and 3 qualifying slots;
- Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia: 1 group of 4 teams each; of which 3 direct Group stage sltos and 1 qualifying slot.


Qualifying Play-offs:
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Format:
22 teams contest 8 Group stage slots in a knockout format within their respective zones.
The Qualifying Play-offs format depends on the number of teams that enter the competition.

Qualification for the Group stage:
the eight Play-offs winners: qualify for the Group stage


Group stage:
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Format:
8 teams from the Qualifying Play-offs and the 28 teams that enter the competition at this stage are drawn into 9 groups of 4 teams each (Groups A-I).
Groups are distributed within the 5 zones as follows:
Groups A-C: West Asia Zone;
Group D: Central Asia Zone:
Group E: South Asia Zone:
Groups F-H: ASEAN Zone:
Group I: East Asia Zone.

Scoring points:
3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.

Table order:
1. points won; 2. points in head-to-head matches; 3. goal difference in hth matches; 4. goals scored in hth matches; 5. total goal difference; 6. total goals scored; 7.* penalties; 8. fairplay ranking; 9. draw.
* - only if exactly two teams are tied and both are on the field of play against each other in the final round.

Qualification for the Knockout stage:
1 place of each group: qualify for the Knockout stage
best 2nd place team of groups A-C: qualifies for the Knockout stage
best 2nd place team of groups F-H: qualifies for the knockout stage

Tie-breakers for determining the 2nd placed teams ranking:
1. points won; 2. total goal difference; 3. total goals scored; 4. draw.


Knockout stage:
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Format:
11 teams from the Group stage contest the AFC Cup winner in a knockout format.
The 4 teams from groups A-C enter the West Asia Semi-finals.
The 4 teams from groups F-H enter the ASEAN Semi-finals.
The 3 teams from Groups D, E and I enter the Inter-zone Semi-finals.

ASEAN Zone Semi-finals:
4 teams are distributed into 2 pairs.
Winners are decided over two legs.
The teams with better Group stage record host the second legs.
The two winners enter ASEAN zone Final.

ASEAN Zone Final:
2 teams are drawn into 1 pair.
Winner is decided over two legs.
Hosting is determined by draw.
Winner enters the Inter-zone Semi-finals.

West Asia Zone Semi-finals:
4 teams are distributed into 2 pairs.
Winners are decided over two legs.
The teams with better Group stage record host the second legs.
The two winners enter Weast Asia Zone Final.

ASEAN Zone Final:
2 teams are drawn into 1 pair.
Winner is decided over two legs.
Hosting is determined by draw.
Winner enters the Final.

Inter-zone Semi-finals:
4 teams are drawn into 2 pairs.
Winners are decided over two legs.
Hosting is determined by draw.
The two winners enter the Inter-zone Final.

Inter-zone Final:
2 teams are drawn into 1 pair.
Winner is decided over two legs.
Hosting is determined by draw.
Winner enters the Final.

Tie-breakers for the knockout matches over two legs:
1. aggregate score from the two legs, 2. away goals 3. extra time, 4. penalties.

Final:
The two West Asia Zone Final winner and the Inter-zone Final winner meet each other with the winner becoming AFC Cup winner.
Winner is decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.
Hosting is determined by the draw.

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