The AFC Champions League is the premier Asian club football competition hosted annually by Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The tournament is contested among the top thirty-two clubs from the top 10 Asian leagues, two of which must qualify through the playoffs. The champions receive about US$2.25 million in prize money (specific amount depends on record from the group stage) and a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year.
Starting 2009 season, the defending champion no longer receives an automatic berth, forcing them to qualify through their respective domestic league or cup competitions. However, the 2008 champions, Gamba Osaka, and the 2009 champions, Pohang Steelers, both managed to qualify for the following season. In the 2010 edition though, the defending champions, Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma became the first club to fail to secure a spot in the following year's Champions League.
The qualifying round starts in late February and the single-match final takes place in early November at a neutral venue. During the World Cup years, the qualifying rounds tends to start bit earlier.
Pohang Steelers is currently the most successful club in the competition's history, having won their third title in 2009. League-wise, the Korean K-League has 10 titles and is the most successful league competition followed by the Japanese J. League which has 5 previous winners. From 2006 to 2012, The East Asian sides experienced a period of dominance with K-League clubs winning 4 titles (2006, 2009, 2010, 2012) and J.League with 2 titles (2007, 2008).
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