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Qualification:

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54 teams from 34 AFC member countries are eligible to participate.

The countries are ranked according to their performance in the 2011-2015 AFC club competitions.

The countries are also split into two regional sections - West Asia and East Asia.



The top 10 countries in each regional zone may enter up to 2 teams in the competition.



The top 2 countries in each regional zone have both their teams entering the competition directly at the Group stage.



The countries, ranked 3rd-10th in each regional zone can enter one of their two teams directly at the Group stage.



The other teams start at various stages in the Qualifying Round and Qualifying Play-offs, depending on the number of participating teams.



Additional notes:

12 of the countries have one team each, participating in the AFC Champions League Qualifying Play-offs. All of those teams are however also included as representatives of their countries in the AFC Cup and participate in the draw for the Group stage. Some of those teams can eventually qualify for the AFC Champions League Group stage. In such case each country has a designated team that is to replace any of its teams that qualify for the AFC Champions League group stage and participate in the AFC Cup group stage instead.





Qualifying Round:

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Format:

9 teams are drawn into 3 groups of 3 teams each (Groups A-C).

Each team plays the others from its own once - at a mini-tournament hosted by one of the teams - for a total of 2 games each, over 3 game weeks.



Scoring points:

3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.



Table order:

1. points won; 2. points in head-to-head matches; 3. goal difference in hth matches; 4. goals scored in hth matches; 5. total goal difference; 6. total goals scored; 7.* penalties; 8. fairplay ranking; 9. draw.

* - only if exactly two teams are tied and both are on the field of play against each other in the final round.



Qualification for the Knockout stage:

1 place of each group: qualify for the Qualifying Play-offs





Qualifying Play-offs:

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Format:

3 teams from the Qualifying Round and the other teams that enter the competition at this stage contest 8 places in the Group stage in a knockout format.

The Qualifying Play-offs format depends on the number of teams that enter the competition.



Play-offs - West Asia Zone:

8 teams are drawn into 4 pairs.

Winners are decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.

The teams from the higher ranked countries are hosts.



Play-offs - East Asia Zone:

8 teams are drawn into 4 pairs.

Winners are decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.

The teams from the higher ranked countries are hosts.



Qualification for the Group stage:

the eight Play-offs winners: qualify for the Group stage





Group stage:

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Format:

8 teams from the Qualifying Play-offs and the 24 teams that enter the competition at this stage are drawn into 8 groups of 4 teams each (Groups A-H).

Teams are distributed into 2 pots, based on regional basis (East Asia and West Asia)

Teams in groups A-D are drawn only from the West Asia pot.

Teams in groups E-H are drawn only from the East Asia pot.

Teams from the same country cannot be drawn in the same group.

Each team plays the others from its own group twice - home and away - for a total of 6 games each, over 6 game weeks.



Scoring points:

3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.



Table order:

1. points won; 2. points in head-to-head matches; 3. goal difference in hth matches; 4. goals scored in hth matches; 5. total goal difference; 6. total goals scored; 7.* penalties; 8. fairplay ranking; 9. draw.

* - only if exactly two teams are tied and both are on the field of play against each other in the final round.



Qualification for the Knockout stage:

1-2 place of each group: qualify for the Knockout stage





Knockout stage:

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Format:

16 teams from the Group stage contest the AFC Cup winner in a knockout format.



8th Finals:

Teams are paired according to their Group stage standings:

1st in Group A vs 2nd in Group C;

1st in Group B vs 2nd in Group D;

1st in Group C vs 2nd in Group A;

1st in Group D vs 2nd in Group B;

1st in Group E vs 2nd in Group G;

1st in Group F vs 2nd in Group H;

1st in Group G vs 2nd in Group E;

1st in Group H vs 2nd in Group F.

Winners are decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.

The group winners are hosts.



Quarter-finals:

8 teams are drawn into 4 pairs.

Teams from the same country cannot be drawn against each other if it can be avoided.

Winners are decided over two legs.

Hosting is determined by the draw.



Semi-finals:

4 teams are drawn into 2 pairs.

Teams from the same country cannot be drawn against each other if it can be avoided.

Winners are decided over two legs.

Hosting is determined by the draw.



Tie-breakers for the knockout matches over two legs:

1. aggregate score from the two legs, 2. away goals 3. extra time, 4. penalties.



Final:

The two Semi-finals winners meet each other with the winner becoming AFC Cup winner.

Winner is decided over one leg, with extra time and penalties if score is level after regular time.

Hosting is determined by the draw.


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