The stage is set for the pinnacle of women’s club football as eight champions from as many Member Associations prepare to vie for continental supremacy in the AFC Women’s Club Championship 2023 – Invitational Tournament, which kicks off for one last time on Monday.
With a record number of teams participating in the competition, the 2023 edition will pave the way for the start of a new chapter in the Confederation’s efforts in enhancing the women’s game as it ushers the commencement of the AFC Women’s Champions League from the 2024/25 season.
Taking place between November 6 and 12, the contest will feature two groups of four playing in centralised venues in Thailand and Uzbekistan simultaneously. Five teams are making their debuts: Bangkok FC, Hualien Women’s Football Team, FC Nasaf, Sydney FC, and Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies.
With the Chonburi Stadium serving as the venue for all Group A matches, the competition gets underway with top seeds Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies, defending champions of Japan’s WE league, taking on reigning Indian Women’s League title-holders Gokulam Kerala FC at 4:30pm on November 6.
The action continues in the evening at 8:30pm when five-time Chinese Taipei league winners Hualien Women’s Football Team lock horns with Thai Women’s League champions Bangkok FC, who will be counting on home support.
A face-off against Hualien Women’s Football Team awaits Gokulam Kerala FC on November 9 at 4:30pm, while Bangkok FC have the challenge of battling Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies at 8:30pm.
Matches in Group A will conclude on November 12 when East Asian heavyweights Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies and Hualien Women’s Football Team cross swords at 4:30pm, while Gokulam Kerala FC will go head-to-head with Bangkok FC at 8:30pm.
Over in Uzbekistan’s capital city Tashkent, Group B will be contested by Sydney FC, Hyundai Steel Red Angels Women’s FC, FC Nasaf, and Bam Khatoon.
The group opener will see a Sydney FC side that includes the likes of Cortnee Vine, who scored the winning penalty for Australia in the shootout against France in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarter-finals, take on Bam Khatoon of Iran, who finished as runners-up of the West region in the 2022 edition. The clash will take place at 3pm at the JAR Stadium on November 6.
Later in the day, a duel between home side FC Nasaf and South Korea’s Hyundai Steel Red Angels will commence at the historic Pakhtakor Stadium at 6pm.
The action will resume on November 9 with Bam Khatoon squaring off against Hyundai Steel Red Angels at the JAR Stadium at 3pm whereas at the Pakhtakor Stadium, FC Nasaf will settle scores against A-League Women champions Sydney FC at 6pm.
The final matchday in Group B takes place on Sunday, November 12, with Sydney FC battling Hyundai Steel Red Angels at 3pm at the JAR Stadium while the last showdown will witness an exciting duel between FC Nasaf and Bam Khatoon FC at the Pakhtakor Stadium at 6pm.
Following the completion of the Group Stage, the two respective group winners will settle scores in one final meeting, which will determine the best women’s club side in Asia.
*All times indicated are in respective local times