AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has urged the AFC Champions League quarterfinalist teams to be well-prepared in order to raise the level of the competition.
“The eight teams have surpassed gruelling group and Round of 16 phases and it is time to turn the attention to the knockout stage. The clubs have put in all their resources to be competitive at the international stage and I feel more attention should be paid to the next level,” he said.
“AFC Champions League is the premier club competition of Asia and I want the clubs to focus on the quarter-final fixtures.”
The draw for the quarter-finals was made last week with former runners-up Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli pitted against Korea Republic’s FC Seoul while another Saudi outfit Al Shabab will take on Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol. Newcomers Buriram United (Thailand) will meet Iran champions Esteghlal while China’s Guangzhou Evergrande will face Qatar’s Lekhwiya.
The first leg of the quarter-finals is scheduled on August 21 with the return leg slated to be played on September 18.
“Buriram United’s qualification for the last eight stage shows that teams from other regions of Asia are also able to compete with the best in the business and this competition is no more dominated by teams from West and East Asia,” he added.
“All the eight clubs are capable of winning this crown and I would like to wish them the very best as they prepare of the next stage of the competition. Fair Play virtues must be respected and the integrity of the game has to be upheld at all times.”
<font size=”1″>(AFC Press Release)</font>