When is the King Salman Cup in Saudi Arabia being contested and who will play in it?

The tournament that pits leading Arab clubs, including Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr, against each other kicks off this week

Cristiano Ronaldo of Al Nassr during a recent pre-season friendly match against Paris Saint-Germain. Getty Images
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The 2023 King Salman Club Cup kicks off in Saudi Arabia this week, pitting some of the Arab region’s leading clubs against one another. Here are the details.

What is it?

Known more widely as the Arab Club Champions Cup, the football tournament was founded in 1981 and is organised under the auspices of the Union of Arab Football Associations. Beginning with 37 teams, it has been whittled down to 16, who contest the group stage in Saudi Arabia across the next few weeks. The tournament, in its 30th edition and named this year the King Salman Club Cup given its hosts, is being held for the first time since 2020.

Where is it?

Taif, Abha and Al Bahah to the south-west of the kingdom host the matches. The cities are situated in the mountains, which allows for matches to be played in cooler temperatures during the height of summer. The three venues used for games are the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Stadium (Abha), King Saud Sport City Stadium (Al Bahah) and King Fahd Stadium (Taif).

When is it?

July 27-August 12. The group stage is played across three matchdays from July 27-August 3, while the quarter-finals run August 5-6, the semi-finals August 9, and the final three days later.

Which teams are competing?

Ten teams entered the group stage directly:

Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

Al Nassr (Saudi Arabia)

Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)

Zamalek (Egypt)

Raja Casablanca (Morocco)

Wydad Casablanca (Morocco)

Al Saad (Qatar)

Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia)

CR Belouizdad (Algeria)

Al Shorta (Iraq)

The remaining six teams who advanced from the qualifying round:

Al Shabab (Saudi Arabia)

Al Wahda (UAE)

Kuwait SC (Kuwait)

Club Sportif Sfaxien (Tunisia)

USM (Tunisia)

Al Ahli Tripoli (Libya)

The groups

Group A

Esperance de Tunis, Al Ittihad, Club Sportif Sfaxien, Al Shorta

Group B

Al Saad, Wydad Casablanca, Al Ahli Tripoli, Al Hilal

Group C

Zamalek, USM, Al Nassr, Al Shabab

Group D

CR Belouizdad, Raja Casablanca, Kuwait SC, Al Wahda

*The winners and runners-up of each group progress to the quarter-finals.

Past champions

Esperance de Tunis are tied for the record for the most titles with three (1993, 2009, 2017) alongside Iraq’s Al Rasheed, who tasted success in successive years from 1985-1987. Al Hilal, Al Shabab, fellow Saudis Al Ettifaq, Club Sportif Sfaxien, Raja Casablanca and Algeria’s ES Setif have all secured the trophy twice, with Raja the tournament’s defending champions following their 2020 victory. Eleven clubs have a solitary victory, including Jeddah’s Al Ahli and Egyptian powerhouses Zamalek and Al Ahly. North Africa has dominated the tournament more recently, with teams from either Tunisia, Algeria or Morocco crowned champions in the past seven tournaments. Ittihad were the most recent Asian club to prosper, winning the title in 2005.

How to watch in the UAE

The action will be broadcast on AD Sports and Dubai Sports TV channels, while matches will be available online through the streaming platform Shahid.

Updated: July 26, 2023, 5:21 AM