Kuala Lumpur, September 24 (QNA) – The AFC Champions League 2023/24 got underway with a bang in the past week with 20 matches taking place across 18 countries as the group stage of the continental competition returned to its traditional home-and-away basis.

Eight former AFC Champions League winners are in the running for this year’s title, while a further eight sides were appearing in the group stage for the first time and a host of global superstars also made their debuts in the tournament.

Al Duhail SC’s Ruben Semedo had more touches (128) and completed more successful passes (112) than any other player on Matchday One.

There were a total of 54 goals across the 20 matches at a rate of 2.7 per game. The 4-2 away wins for Incheon United and Pohang Steelers at Yokohama F. Marinos and Hanoi FC respectively were the highest-scoring games, while there were also three goalless draws.

Martin Adam enjoyed a fine AFC Champions League debut, netting a treble in two-time winners Ulsan Hyundai’s 3-1 victory over Thailand’s BG Pathum United. The Hungarian striker was the only player to score a hat-trick on Matchday One and is now an early contender for the Golden Boot.

With the group stage back to its traditional home-and-away format for the first time since early 2020, fans from across Asia flocked to stadiums to take in the action. The largest attendance was in China PR, where 27.599 turned out to see Wuhan Three Towns’ 2-2 draw against Urawa.

Al Faisaly goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil and AGMK shot-stopper Botirali Ergashev each made a Matchday high seven saves, although could not prevent their sides from losing as Al Faisaly were defeated 1-0 following a 97th-minute FC Nasaf winner and AGMK were beaten 3-0 by Al Ittihad. (QNA)


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