Unheralded Syrian club Al Karama will need to continue their giant killing form should they wish to continue their record breaking run when they face reiging champions Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia who themselves are looking for an unprecedented third consecutive title.
No Syrian side has ever progressed as far as Al Karama, but they travel to Riyadh after Al Ittihad received a bye through the group stages as current title holders.
Their front line has been further bolstered by the arrival of all time leading Mexican goal scorer Jared Borgetti who joined from English side Bolton during the summer.
The player known as “the Desert Fox” has already proven his worth for his new club with an injury time winner in their opening Saudi league match against Al Taie.
Another first timer for the elimination round are Kuwaiti champions Al Qadisiya who face last year’s runners up Al Ain of the UAE.
The eleven-time Kuwaiti champions are in good touch with a 5-0 hammering of Al Nasr in the first round of their domestic Al Kharafi Cup.
Current Saudi champions Al Shabab host current K-League table toppers Ulsan who were boosted by the decision of winger Lee Chun-soo to turn down an offer of a trial at English club Portsmouth.
China’s Shanghai Shenhua host South Korea’s other quarter finalist Chonbuk with their domestic form giving them reason for optimism as they currently sit in second place in the Chinese Super League. In contrast the visitors are looking to get their season back on track after an indifferent K-League campaign.
Viduka to return
Meanwhile, Australian captain Mark Viduka has indicated he will return to the Australian national side for next year’s Asian Cup.
The Middlesbrough striker was rumoured to have considered retirement after the World Cup in Germany, but has instead reached an agreement with the footballing authorities in Australia about his future.
“I’ve come to an agreement with (Australia’s interim coach) Graham (Arnold) because my wife is pregnant … so I want to be with her at this time,” he said.
“I don’t know if I will play in the next game … we’ve already qualified anyway,” he said
Next year’s Asian Cup will be held in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam in July.