The line-up for the Western Zone half of the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16 has been finalized following the conclusion of the group stages at the weekend, with two of the three Saudi teams securing qualification.
While Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr suffered some anxious moments throughout the campaign before reaching the knockout stages, Al-Ahli failed to go through despite some encouraging performances along the way.
As Groups A and C brought Matchday Six to a dramatic end on Friday, several of the continent’s biggest clubs will miss out on the Round of 16, with Qatar’s Al-Sadd SC and Al-Duhail SC joining the Jeddah club in exiting the tournament.
The competition will resume in September with Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol taking on Iran’s Persepolis; Sharjah playing Al-Wahda in an all-UAE affair; Esteghlal of Iran against 2019 champions Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia; and Al-Nassr against Iran’s Tractor.
Istiklol capped a dream debut campaign by finishing top of Group A, with Al-Hilal advancing as one of the three best runners-up from the five West groups.
Sharjah, who ended their group stage campaign with 11 points, advanced as the Group B winners with second-placed Tractor also progressing.
Esteghlal, with 11 points, were the only team from Group C to qualify to the knockout stages.
Group D was topped by 2020 AFC Champions League semi-finalists Al-Nassr, with the Riyadh team’s two wins over Al-Sadd proving decisive in knocking out the newly crowned Qatari champions.
Iran’s Persepolis, the runners-up in 2018 and 2020, comfortably won Group E with 15 points, with UAE’s Al-Wahda also advancing.
The Round of 16 and quarter-finals will be played as single leg affairs in September.
The semi-finals and final will be contested on a home and away basis, with the last four ties scheduled for October and the final in November.
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