The AFC Cup is for clubs from "developing" national associations as categorised by the AFC's Vision Asia, the blueprint for the development of football in the continent.
Apart from giving clubs the chance to compete on a continental scale - and hopefully to improve by doing so - one of the key reasons for the new competition is to reduce the number of morale-crushing heavy defeats that have been commonplace in Asian club competition when the continent's lesser sides have come up against more experienced and established teams. In short, the AFC Cup should provide a more level playing field for its participants.
Twenty-eight teams from 14 countries were slated for the competition but clubs from Jordan, DPR Korea and Myanmar decided not to compete while Hong Kong and Oman are represented by only one team each.
The 20 competing teams have been split into five groups (three from west and south and central Asia; two from Asean and east Asia) with the tournament being played on a home-and-away basis, kicking off on February 11.
The group games will be played between February 11 and May 19. Eight teams (5 group winners and 3 group runners-up) will progress to the quarter-finals.
The knockout rounds of the AFC Cup will take place over two legs on a home-and-away aggregate score basis. The quarter-final take place on September 15 (first leg) and 22 (second leg), the semi-finals are on October 20 and 27, with the final on November 19 and 26.