Organisers claim that next week's second leg of the Asian Champions League final between Guangzhou Evergrande and FC Seoul is set to attract the highest sporting television audience in China this year. Last week’s first leg at Seoul World Cup Stadium averaged 17.42 million viewers in China, said the Asian Football Confedration, claiming it as the second highest this year for a sports event. CCTV-5 contributed 14.83 million viewers to the average live audience, with the match now the highest rated football audience on the channel this year and third highest overall for a sports event. “Once again, as we have seen consistently throughout recent years, the popularity of the AFC Champions League continues to grow,” said Dato’ Alex Soosay, General Secretary of the Asian Football Confederation. “We have witnessed significant growth in television audiences for the AFC Champions League this season and we expect this trend to continue. “The TV audience figures reflect the desire for football fans in Asia to watch Asian club football in increasing numbers, and coupled with rising attendances, this highlights the impressive growth of the competition.” With the 2-2 draw being played in front of a 55,501 crowd in the Korean capital which was FC Seoul’s highest attendance of the season in any competition, the game also reached a total of 62.62 million viewers across six channels in China, organisers said. “This is truly a great TV rating, especially with the game starting in China earlier than prime time due to the time difference with Korea,” said CSM Media Research KantarSport Managing Director Pierre Justo. “I am now confident that the return leg will most likely become this year’s highest sports audience on CCTV-5 and across all networks.” Compared to other matches in the AFC Champions League this year, the average viewer figure in China for the first leg was 43 per cent higher than the previous best which was recorded for Guangzhou’s semi-final second leg win over Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol earlier this month. “The success of Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League over the last two years has contributed significantly to the impressive growth of the competition and the commercial opportunities associated with that level of improvement,” said Nick Mould, President, East Asia for World Sport Group. “And with a sell-out crowd expected inside the stadium for the second leg of the final, we are eagerly anticipating record TV viewing figures following the huge interest already shown in the competition this year.” The Marcello Lippi-coached Guangzhou are looking to hand China a first continental title since Liaoning in 1990, while FC Seoul are seeking to keep the AFC Champions League title in Korean hands for a fourth time in five years.