Marching on: Who are the 16 teams through to the AFC Champions League knockout round?

Yokohama F. Marinos are one of 16 teams through to the 2023-24 AFC Champions League knockout round, after topping a remarkable Group G that had three teams all finishing level on 12 points. Hiroki Watanabe/Getty Images

The 2023-24 AFC Champions League group stage is done and dusted and the lineup for the round of 16 has been set.

With Asian football's premier club competition boasting a staggering total of 40 teams, only the ten group winners were guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage, where they would be joined by the six best-performing runners-up (three each from the East and West Asia Zones, which are kept apart until the final).

As the group-stage action concluded on Wednesday after a final match day that extended over two separate weeks, several favourites are marching on as expected.

But there have also been surprises -- both in terms of high fliers performing above expectations and one-time powerhouses unexpected falling by the wayside.

Here, we look at which teams have progressed to the last 16, and which teams have bowed out in the group stage.


Qualified: Having booked their spot in the round of 16 as early as on match day 4, Al Ain bounced back from a first defeat of the campaign last time out to finish on an emphatic note as they beat Pakhtakor 4-1 last Tuesday.

And it proved to be a result that had massive implications elsewhere in the group.

Having started the day second in Group A and in with a chance of advancing along with Al Ain, Pakhtakor's defeat not only meant that they were overtaken by Al Fayha -- who beat Ahal 3-1 -- but saw the Saudi Arabian outfit advance at their expense as their final nine-point haul was enough to see them progress as the third and final best-performing runners-up in the West Asia Zone.

Eliminated: Ahal were already eliminated as of match day 5 and they were joined last Tuesday by Pakhtakor, who will now be wondering what might have been following their final-day collapse.


Qualified: Entering the final round of group-stage action needing to avoid defeat to advance, Nasaf Qarshi got the result they needed with a 2-2 draw against Al Sadd.

Eliminated: Last Monday's draw with Nasaf saw Al Sadd climb above Sharjah into second spot -- by virtue of a superior head-to-head record -- and initially kept alive their hopes of reaching the round of 16.

But it ultimately proved futile as they were pipped to the third best-runners-up spot in the West Asia Zone by Al Fayha, meaning they joined Sharjah and Al Faisaly in being eliminated from the group stage.


Qualified: Al Ittihad had already booked their place in the last 16 the previous week but they made sure they finished on a high as a 2-1 win over Sepahan last Monday secured top spot in Group C.

While Sepahan did miss a chance to guarantee they would be joining Al Ittihad in the knockout round, which would have been the case had defeated the Saudi Pro League champions, they were still in a strong position to advance as one of best-placed runners-up -- which was duly confirmed last Wednesday.

Eliminated: Both Air Force Club and AGMK had already been out of the running prior to last week's action, but the former restored some pride as their 3-2 victory over the latter means they ultimately finished level on ten points with Sepahan.


Qualified: Having already wrapped up top spot on match day 5, Al Hilal finished the group stage on a positive note as a 2-1 win over Nassaji Mazandaran meant a final tally of 16 points as they went unbeaten through all six outings.

And although they had to settle for a runners-up finish in Group D, Navbahor's commendable haul of 13 points is enough to guarantee a place in the round of 16 as one of the West Asia Zone's three best-performing runners-up.

Eliminated: In a group dominated by Al Hilal and Navbahor, Nassaji Mazandaran and Mumbai City had been eliminated as early as on match day 4.


Qualified: After emerging as the runaway leaders of Group E, Al Nassr had already secured their last-16 berth with a game to spare and finished their group-stage campaign undefeated with four wins and two draws.

Eliminated: Entering last week still in with a chance of advancing in second place, Persepolis ultimately failed to get the job done as a 2-1 loss to already-eliminated Al Duhail meant they finished with the worst record of the West Asia Zone's five runners-up on eight points.

In addition to Al Duhail, Istiklol had also already been out of the running even with a game still to play.


Qualified: Having emerged as the surprise package in Group F, Bangkok United had already booked their place in the round of 16 prior to the final match round.

As their unbeaten record was ended with a 3-2 loss to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Wednesday, the result also meant that the K League 1 giants will be advancing as one of the three best-performing runners-up in the East Asia Zone.

Eliminated: Both Lion City Sailors and Kitchee had already been eliminated after match day 5, but the latter did manage to avoid going the entire campaign without a win by beating the former on Wednesday.


Qualified: In a thoroughly unpredictable group where three teams each took turns to sit atop the perch, play ended remarkably with three teams all tied on 12 points -- meaning it went down to the combined head-to-head records to decide the final positions.

In the end, it was Yokohama F. Marinos who finished top on head-to-head goal difference by a solitary strike, with Shandong Taishan behind them and also doing enough to advance to the round of 16.

Eliminated: Quite astoundingly, Incheon United have been eliminated despite having began their campaign with emphatic 4-2 and 4-0 victories and a total of four wins to their names.

Their final tally of 12 points would have been enough to see them advance as one of the best runners-up had they finished second.

For Kaya FC-Iloilo, the campaign has been a humbling experience as they suffered six straight losses and conceded a staggering 21 goals.


Qualified: Remarkably, all four teams in Group H entered the final day still in with a chance of reaching the round of 16.

But it was Ventforet Kofu -- who are the only team in the competition not playing in their domestic top tier -- who got over the line as they came from behind and then held off a late fightback against Buriram United to hold on for a crucial 3-2 win -- one that was enough to see them win the group.

Eliminated: While a win might have been enough for Melbourne City to pip Ventforet to top spot, they suffered late heartbreak on Tuesday after conceding an equaliser in the 9th minute of injury-time for a 1-1 draw with Zhejiang Professional.

They originally still held a glimmer of hope of progress but results elsewhere on Wednesday meant they would not be advancing as one of the best second-placed teams.

And although both Zhejiang and Buriram headed into the week still hopeful of a place in the last 16, failure to notch victories means that both have now bowed out of the competition.


Qualified: Eager to make amends for a disappointing domestic campaign, Kawasaki Frontale did brilliantly to seal top spot -- and their place in the last 16 -- on the back of five straight wins.

Their perfect record did however come to an end on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw against Ulsan Hyundai -- a result that was also enough to see the South Koreans progress as they are now guaranteed to be among the best-performing second-placed teams.

Eliminated: Although they were already out of the running, Johor Darul Ta'zim salvaged some pride on Tuesday as an emphatic 4-1 rout of BG Pathum United saw them ultimately finish just a point behind runners-up Ulsan.

Meanwhile, BGPU will be left licking their wounds as the Thai League 1 outfit -- who previously performed admirably to reach the knockout round in the past two campaigns -- suffered the unwanted record of losing all six of their matches this term.


Qualified: Having been among the first teams to advance as early as on match day 4, Pohang Steelers ended the group stage undefeated although their perfect record came to an end last week with a 1-1 draw against Wuhan Three Towns.

Eliminated: In disappointing fashion, Urawa Red Diamonds' title defence has come to an end on a whimper.

Despite finishing runners-up in Group J, the Reds have the worst record of all the East Asia Zone's second-placed teams despite having played a game more and will not be advancing to the last 16.

Wuhan and Hanoi FC had already been eliminated prior to last week's action but the latter ended their campaign on a high with a 2-1 win over three-time champions Urawa that will go down in the Vietnamese club's history.