Kuala Lumpur: The Round of 16 stage of the 2017 AFC Champions League is just a few days away, so join the-AFC.com as we look at the 10 facts and figures you should know before the first leg ties begin on Monday.
1. After reaching their ninth consecutive Round of 16 phase Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal extended their proud record of appearing in every single last 16 stage since its inception in 2009.
2. At the other end of the scale there will be four sides making their knockout stage debut with IR Iran’s Esteghlal Khouzestan, Muangthong United of Thailand, China’s Jiangsu FC and Jeju United of Korea Republic all making their bow in the Round of 16.
3. Japan boast the most clubs to appear in the Round of 16 with nine different teams involved in the first phase of the knockout stage. They are: Nagoya Grampus, Gamba Osaka, Kashima Antlers, Kawasaki Frontale, Cerezo Osaka, Kashiwa Reysol, FC Tokyo, Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Urawa Red Diamonds.
However, Esteghlal Khouzestan’s appearance in this year’s Round of 16 will mean that, as of Tuesday night, IR Iran too will have had nine different representatives at this stage.
4. When it comes to Round of 16 wins FC Seoul are kings, with five victories and just one defeat at the first knockout round stage. Having appeared in all eight editions of the last 16, Al Hilal, perhaps unsurprisingly, have suffered the most defeats, alongside Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor, having each exited four times
5. Asamoah Gyan and Muriqui are the leading scorers in the Round of 16 so far with five goals each. While Muriqui is back in his native Brazil at Vasco de Gama, Al Ahli’s Ghanaian striker Gyan has a chance to take the outright lead as he is in the Emirati club’s squad to face Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia on Monday.
7. Although Korean Yoo Byung-soo is one behind the two leading scorers, he did net all four in one match – the most by any player in the last 16 – as Al Hilal defeated Baniyas 7-1 in the 2012 edition. The comprehensive victory was also the most goals seen in a Round of 16 match so far.
8. Unsurprisingly then, that 7-1 win is also the joint largest margin of victory in the Round of 16, alongside Pohang Steelers’ 6-0 demolition of Australia’s Newcatle Jets in 2009.
8. Referee Valentin Kovalenko of Uzbekistan has been the man in the middle for the most Round of 16 ties having officiated at seven so far. Celebrated compatriot Ravshan Irmatov has been the referee for five, the same number as Korean official Kim Dong-jin.
9. The biggest attendance ever seen at a Round of 16 tie was in the match between IR Iran’s Persepolis and Al Hilal on 19 May 2015 when 100,000 fans crammed the rafters of the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.
10. And finally, last year’s edition of the AFC Champions League Round of 16 saw a record 47 goals fly in, one more than the 2015 total. However, it’s important to note that up until 2013, the last 16 was a one-legged affair. Therefore, the 2012 edition with an average of 3.3 goals per game is the top scoring Round of 16.
Photo: Lagardère Sports