Al Hilal FC of Saudi Arabia is the most decorated football club in Asia, winning a whopping 65 official trophies.
Updated: January 2, 2023.
Asian football might not be as European football, but the round-leather game is still hugely popular in the most populous continent on earth.
Over the past two decades, governments, football authorities and other stakeholders in Asia have invested heavily in soccer.
That has culminated in Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, 20 years after South Korea and Japan hosted the global showpiece.
In this post, FootballOrbit brings you the top 10 best football clubs in Asia in 2023.
This ranking is based on their performance in 2021/22.
1. Al Hilal FC (Saudi Arabia)
Al Hilal is a the most successful football club in Saudi Arabia. It has won the Saudi Professional League title a record 18 times.
It is also the most decorated club in Asia, winning a whopping 65 official trophies.
Furthermore, the club holds the record for the most continental trophies in Asia.
In September 2009, it was awarded Best Asian Club of the 20th Century by the IFFHS.
As the champions of the AFC Champions League, Al Hilal qualified for the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup this year — losing out to eventual champions Chelsea in the semifinal.
It won the league in 2022 for a record 18th time.
Some of the most prominent players in its current squad are: former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo, Brazilian attacker Matheus Pereira and former Porto striker Moussa Marega.
In recent weeks, Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational move to Al Hilal.
2. Kawasaki Frontale (Japan)
After years of bouncing between the second and first division in Japan, Kawasaki Frontale have maintained an impressive success over the last decade in the top flight and on the continent.
The club won its first ever J1 league title in 2017.
The club is also notable in the country for providing brilliant players for the national team.
Frontale have won the Japanese league title back-to-back in the last two seasons.
Brazilian striker Leandro Damião is Kawasaki Frontale’s most notable player. He is even the vice captain, having been with the club since 2019.
3. Al-Duhail SC (Qatar)
Al-Duhail SC of Qatar was founded just in 2009 but it has quickly established itself has one of the best teams on the Asian continent.
It is the first team in Qatari football history to win the 1st division league title in its debut season!!!
It has since won the league title 7 times.
At the end of the 2017/18 season, Al-Duhail became the first Qatari club to hold all three domestic titles; the league, Qatar Cup and Emir Cup.
It is currently managed by Argentine football legend, Hernán Crespo.
Al-Duhail won the Emir of Qatar Cup in 2022.
4. Jeonbuk FC (South Korea)
Known as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors due to sponsorship reasons, it is the most successful football club in South Korea.
After its founding in 1994, Jeonbuk did not seriously challenge for the Korean League title — often languishing in mid-table — until it eventually won it for the first time in 2009.
Since then it has won the K League a record 8 times. It has also won the Korean FA Cup 4 times.
The club have won the AFC Champions League twice. The first was in 2006, becoming the first club from East Asia to win the tournament since the AFC Champions League was launched in its current format in 2003.
Also at that time, it became the only team in the world to have become continental champions without ever having won a domestic league title.
The club won its second AFC Champions League title in 2016.
Jeonbuk are the current defending champions of the Korean league.
5. Persepolis FC (Iran)
Founded in 1963, Persepolis is one of the best football clubs in Asia.
According to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), it is the most popular football club in Asia.
At the AFC Champions League, the club has the records of the most attendances. Four times, it has recorded 100,000 match attendances.
Persepolis has won a record 14 Iranian league titles, as well as 6 Hazfi Cups, 4 Super Cups and the 1990/91 Asian Cup Winners’ Cup.
Many notable players have played for the club, including former Bayern Munich players Ali Karimi, Ali Daei, Vahid Hashemian and former Hamburger SV player Mehdi Mahdavikia.
Persepolis were runners-up of the AFC Champions League in 2018 and 2020.
6. Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea)
Ulsan Hyundai FC is a South Korean football club owned by the Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The club have won the Korean league twice, FA Cup once and the League Cup five times.
Ulsai Hyundai won the AFC Champions League in 2012 and 2020. It won the 2012 title unbeaten throughout the 12 games of the competition — winning 9 consecutive games and scoring 27 goals.
7. Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan)
Yokohama F. Marinos is a Yokohama-based Japanese football club founded in 1972. The club is owned by Nissan and the City Football Group.
The City Football Group also own Manchester City, New York City FC, Girona, Palermo and Melbourne City among others across the world.
Yokohama F. Marinos is the longest serving team in the top flight of Japanese football, having played at the top level since 1982.
Along with Kashima Antlers, they are also one of the only two teams to have competed in Japan’s top flight of football every year since its inception.
Yokohama have 4 J1 league titles, 2 Emperor’s Cup, 1 League Cup and 1 Asian Cup Winners’ Cup.
8. Al-Sadd (Qatar)
Al-Sadd is the best team in Qatar and is the only Qatari football club that has won the AFC Champions League in Asia.
It has won the Qatar Stars League a record 16 times and has an astonishing 64 trophies in total.
In 2015, Al-Sadd achieved the coup of signing Barcelona legend Xavi. In 2019, the Spaniard ended his career as a professional player and immediately began his career as manager at the club.
With Xavi as manager, Al-Sadd won six cups and one championship title between 2019 and 2021.
Xavi left the club for Barcelona in November 2021.
Other notable international players that have played for Al-Sadd are Raul, Ali Daei, Felipe Jorge and Baghdad Bounedjah.
9. Estaghlal (Iran)
Estaghlal is an Iranian club based in the country’s capital of Tehran.
It is one of the most supported and successful clubs in Iranian football, having won 2 AFC Champions League trophies, 10 league titles and a record 7 Hafzi cups.
Estaghlal are the defending champions of the Iranian league, winning the 2021/22 title with a record 68-point through an unprecedented unbeaten campaign.
10. Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia)
Al Nassr is one of the most successful clubs in Saudi Arabia.
At domestic level, the club has won 9 Professional League titles, 6 King’s Cups, 3 Crown Prince’s Cups, 3 Federation Cups and 2 Saudi Super Cups.
At international level, they have won two GCC Champions Leagues and held the impressive feat of pulling a historic Asian continental double in 1998, by winning both the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup and Asian Super Cup.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Al Nassr’s success was built around the “Saudi Golden Trio” of Majed Abdullah, Fahd Al-Herafy and Mohaisn Al-Jam’aan.
Some top players in Al Nassr at the moment are Cameroonian captain Vincent Abubakar, Brazilians Luis Gustavo and Talisca.