With time running out in the group stage of the 2023-24 AFC Champions League group stage, the race for the round of 16 is well and truly in its business end.
With Asian football's premier club competition boasting a staggering total of 40 teams, it means only the ten group winners are guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage, where they will 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).
So with match day 5 of the group-stage action in play, who remains on track to advance to the last 16? And which teams have already bowed out?
*This page will be updated throughout the final rounds of the group stage.
Qualified: Champions in 2002-03, Al Ain haven't had the best of times in the ACL recently after back-to-back group-stage exits were followed by a humbling qualifying-round elimination -- before they missed out altogether last term.
The Emirati outfit are however making up for lost time and are one of only two teams in the West to boast a perfect record of four wins, which has been enough to seal their progress with two games to spare.
Still in the running: Al Ain's dominance in Group A also means the other three teams are closely packed together below them with Pakhtakor and Ahal tied on four points and Al Fayha a further point adrift.
None of them have mathematically been eliminated but Pakhtakor are currently the lowest ranked of the West Asia Zone's five best-performing second-placed teams -- three points off their closest challengers.
Eliminated: None yet, but it is looking increasingly unlikely that any will do enough to advance as one of the best-performing runners-up.
Nov. 28: Al Ain vs. Pakhtakor, Al Fayha vs. Ahal
Dec. 5: Ahal vs. Al Ain, Pakhtakor vs. Al Fayha
Qualified: No team has advanced from Group B yet with just three points separating the top three.
Still in the running: After a 3-1 win over Al Faisaly on Monday, Nasaf Qarshi are now in top spot as they leapfrogged Sharjah -- who slumped to a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Al Sadd -- to grab a two-point lead.
Having largely performed below expectations given their status as perennial contenders, Qatari giants Al Sadd are now in with a chance even in third place as they meet Nasaf on the final day -- where they can overtake Nasaf on head-to-head with anything better than a 3-1 win, and then hope Al Faisaly do them a favour by preventing Sharjah from picking up maximum points.
Eliminated: Having spent the entire campaign at the bottom of the group, Al Faisaly are now officially eliminated following a fourth loss of the campaign on match day 5.
Dec. 4: Al Faisaly vs. Sharjah, Al Sadd vs. Nasaf Qarshi
Even though they could still be overtaken by Sepahan when both teams meet in next week's top-of-the-table clash, Al Ittihad are still guaranteed to be one of the West Asia Zone's three best-placed runners-up even if they relinquish group-winners status on the final day.
Still in the running: Trailing Al Ittihad by just two points, Sepahan are in a strong position to advance and can make certain of it should they manage to beat the Saudi Pro League giants in a week's time.
Even if they do not, a place in the round of 16 still looks well within reach by virtue of their strong position at present -- even if they finish up as Group C runners-up.
Eliminated: With AGMK having already been eliminated last time out, they were joined by Air Force Club on Monday as the Iraqi outfit's 1-0 loss to Sepahan ended their hopes of progressing in what initially looked to be a promising campaign.
Dec. 4: Air Force Club vs. AGMK, Al Ittihad vs. Sepahan
Qualified: Group D has yet to be decided but it will be a shootout between two teams.
Their next meeting on Nov. 28 will go a long way in deciding who qualifies automatically, although the other will still be in a strong position as a ten-point haul is currently the best of the West Asia Zone's five second-placed teams.
Nov. 28: Nassaji Mazandaran vs. Mumbai City, Navbahor vs. Al Hilal
Dec. 12: Al Hilal vs. Nassaji Mazandaran, Mumbai City vs. Navbahor
Qualified: After emerging as the runaway leaders of Group E, Al Nassr have now secured their last-16 berth with Monday's 0-0 draw against Persepolis.
There is no way they can be caught now with a five-point lead over the Iranian challengers, although the result did end Al Nassr's perfect record after they had won all four of their previous outings on the back of their potent attack featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mané and Anderson Talisca.
Still in the running: While winning Group E is no longer a possibility for Persepolis, they can hope to qualify as one of the best-performing runners-up but are in a shaky position as they are currently holding the last qualification spot in the West Asia Zone -- ranked third out of the five teams currently in second place.
Eliminated: Having entered this week's action still with a mathematical chance albeit one that looked highly unlikely, Al Duhail and Istiklol have both now officially been eliminated with a game still to play -- with the former only having just picked up their first win of the campaign on Monday after beating the latter 2-0, who only have two points to their names.
Dec. 5: Istiklol vs. Al Nassr, Persepolis vs. Al Duhail
Qualified: With a trio of teams still in the running to finish top, no one has thus far sealed their progress to the next stage.
Still in the running: Bangkok United missed a real opportunity to put one foot in the round of 16 as their three-game winning run came to an end in their last outing with a 1-1 draw against Kitchee, although they are still looking good sitting on top with ten points.
Bottom side Kitchee might have been effectively out of the equation but their draw against Bangkok United means they have the faintest glimmer of hope.
Nov. 29: Bangkok United vs. LCS, Kitchee vs. Jeonbuk
Dec. 13: LCS vs. Kitchee, Jeonbuk vs. Bangkok United
Qualified: A two-way tie at the Group G summit means nothing has been decided yet in terms of qualification.
Conversely, Yokohama F. Marinos have bounced back from an opening loss to win three on the trot to share the Group G lead with Shandong on nine points.
Eliminated: As the tournament's huge underdogs, Kaya FC-Iloilo's performances have not gone against expectations much and they are one of the four sides already eliminated -- having lost all four of their outings and conceding 12 goals in the process.
Nov. 28: Incheon vs. Yokohama F. Marinos, Shandong vs. Kaya
Dec. 12: Kaya vs. Incheon, Yokohama F. Marinos vs. Shandong
Qualified: All four teams in Group H -- separated by just four points -- can still qualify for the round of 16.
The latter were originally in a stronger position but suffered their first loss of the campaign in their most-recent continental outing as they were beaten 1-0 by Buriram United, who are only a point off the pace.
With three points to their names, Zhejiang Professional have the biggest job on their hands but the competitive nature of the group means they still cannot be discounted.
Eliminated: None thus far.
Nov. 29: Ventforet vs. Melbourne City, Zhejiang vs. Buriram
Dec. 12: Buriram vs. Ventforet, Melbourne City vs. Zhejiang
Qualified: While Kawasaki Frontale are the high fliers here, they are not mathematically through to the knockout round yet.
Still in the running: Only two teams in the East can lay claim to a perfect record of four wins and Kawasaki are one of them, having put aside their disappointing domestic campaign in the J1 League to be firmly on course for the ACL round of 16.
Behind them, Ulsan Hyundai and Johor Darul Ta'zim have inflicted defeats on one another in their past two outings to sit level in joint-second on six points -- although the former will have to edge moving forward due to their superior head-to-head goal difference.
Like several other cellar dwellers, BG Pathum United are yet to be officially ousted but are as good as out following four losses in a row.
Eliminated: None yet, but BGPU can start looking elsewhere for glory this season.
Nov. 28: BGPU vs. Ulsan, Kawasaki vs. JDT
Dec. 12: JDT vs. BGPU, Ulsan vs. Kawasaki
Qualified: With a 2-1 win over Urawa Red Diamonds last time out, their fourth victory in as many games, Pohang Steelers became the second team to advance on match day 4 as they joined Al Ain in the knockout stage.
Still in the running: With Pohang now guaranteed top spot, it is down to a three-way battle for the runners-up berth and, even then, none of the sides look in a particularly strong position to advance as one of the three best second-placed teams in the East.
Urawa look to have the most at stake as they look to avoid the ignominy of a group-stage elimination as defending champions, although they currently hold the slightest of head-to-head advantages in second place over Wuhan Three Towns -- with both teams still to meet again in their next outing.
Having lost their first three matches, including a humbling 6-0 rout at the hands of Urawa, Hanoi FC breathed life into their campaign with a gritty 2-1 triumph over Wuhan to now sit just one point off second place.
Eliminated: No teams have been eliminated as of yet.
Nov. 28: Pohang vs. Hanoi, Urawa vs. Wuhan
Dec. 6: Hanoi vs. Urawa, Wuhan vs. Pohang