Kuala Lumpur: After the conclusion of the 2017 AFC Champions League Group Stage, the competition moves swiftly on to the knockout phase with the first legs of the Round of 16 in the West taking place on Monday and Tuesday.
With eight teams from the region now departed, the remaining eight are left to battle it out for quarter-final places and, ahead of four mouthwatering clashes, the margin for error has been reduced significantly.
Esteghlal v Al Ain
One of the standout fixtures of the first knockout round sees Group A runners-up Esteghlal host Group C winners Al Ain on Monday as the Iranian team get set to take part in their first knockout stage encounter since 2013.
Esteghlal’s return to the competition after a three-year hiatus saw a largely impressive group stage campaign but the Iranian side will face their toughest test to date when 2016 runners-up Al Ain, who remain unbeaten, visit Tehran.
Esteghlal (IRN) v Al Ain (UAE) PREVIEW Venue: Azadi Stadium, Tehran Kick-off: May 22, 20:45 UTC+4:30
Al Ahli (KSA) v Al Ahli (UAE)
Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli will take on namesakes Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates on Monday with both teams participating in their first Round of 16 clash in two years.
The Saudi side needed a 2-0 Matchday Six win over Zobahan to advance to the knockout stage as Group C runners-up, while their Emirati opponents comfortably saw off Lokomotiv 4-0 to claim top spot in Group A.
Al Ahli (KSA) v Al Ahli (UAE) PREVIEW Venue: King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah Kick-off: May 22, 20:45 UTC+3