HOW WE QUALIFY: A closer look at the final ACL Matchday

Just one Matchday remains in the Group Stage of the AFC Champions League and things are certainly getting tight as we aim to progress to the knockout stages for the first time.

There are still plenty of permutations in play ahead of the final matches of the Group Stage, so we’ve done our best to break down the scenarios as simply as possible.

We can achieve qualification through two avenues – topping our group, or as one of the highest-ranked second-placed teams in the East Region.

We’re currently second on the Group H table on goals scored to Japanese side, Ventforet Kofu who will face Buriram United in their final match at the same time as our clash against Zhejiang.

Here’s a look at how we can qualify based on the possible results in those two fixtures.

If we win…

Ventforet Kofu loss or draw

This is the pair of results we will be hoping for. This one’s nice and simple so we’ll keep it short – should this happen, we’ll top Group H and go through to the knockouts.

Ventforet Kofu win

With all the head-to-head tiebreakers level, if both us and Kofu were to win, things would get very tight…

  • Same winning margin or Kofu have a greater winner margin: Kofu qualifies automatically on goals scored.
  • We win by a goal (or higher) more than Kofu do: We qualify automatically on goal difference.

If we weren’t to seal automatic qualification, the three points would still give us a great chance to qualify as one of the three top-ranked second-placed teams in the East Region. Here’s how that table currently looks ahead of the final matchday:

If we draw…

Ventforet Kofu loss

This would mean we would jump Kofu on points and be equal on nine points with Buriram.

We are one win apiece in head-to-head matchups against Buriram but as we have the superior goal difference, this would see us top the group and automatically qualify.

Ventforet Kofu draw

This would see us end on the same points as Kofu and as above, all head-to-head tiebreakers are level. We would likely need to score 2+ goals more than they do to jump them and qualify automatically.

Ventforet Kofu win

This would leave us on nine points and we’d be relying on a number of unlikely results to go our way across the other groups to secure an unlikely qualification as one of the top second-ranked teams.

If we lose…

Let’s not think about this one for too long. If we were to lose, we would be jumped on the table by Zhejiang and could fall to as low as bottom of the Group.

Feature Image: AFC Champions League