Tough draw for Qatari teams in AFC Champions League
Doha: Qatari champions Al Duhail were placed alongside UAE’s Al Wahda, Uzbek side Lokomotiv Tashkent and the play-off winner between Zob Ahan of Iran and Indian champions Aizawl in Group B of the AFC Champions League after the draw was held in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
Qatar’s Al Sadd were drawn into Group C where they take on Iranian side Persepolis, UAE’s Al Wasl and the winner of the playoff match between Nasaf Qarshi of Uzbekistan and Jordan’s Al-Faisaly.
“We are fully prepared for the tournament, especially our injured players will return in the next stage, which will give us more motivation to do our best,” Al Saddmanager Abdullah Al Brik told the club website.
As for the decision of the AFC not to play on neutral grounds, he said: “We welcome all the clubs in Qatar and those who refuse to come, the problem with the AFC and not with us.
Al Rayyan, the third Qatari team to directly qualify for the continental championship, are in a tough Group D where they find themselves clubbed with Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, Esteghlal of Iran and the playoff winner between Al-Ain of UAE and Bahrain’s Malkiya.
Al-Gharafa who take on Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor will join Al Jazira, Al Ahli and Tractor Sazi in Group A provided they clear their first hurdle.
Duhail will take on either Zob Ahan or Aizawl in their first match on February 12 while Sadd’s first match is against Al Wasl on February 13. Rayyan have a tough opening challenge as they take on Esteghlal on the same day.
Group A: Al Jazira (UAE), Al Ahli (KSA), Tractorsazi Tabriz (IRI), Winner of Playoff 3
Group B: Al Duhail SC (QAT), Al Wahda (UAE), PFC Lokomotiv (UZB), Winner of Playoff 2
Group C: Persepolis FC (IRI), Al Sadd SC (QAT), Al Wasl (UAE), Winner of Playoff 4
Group D: Al Hilal SFC (KSA), Esteghlal FC (IRI), Al Rayyan SC (QAT), Winner of Playoff 1
Group E: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (KOR), Kitchee SC (HKG), Winner of Play-off 4, Winner of Play-off 2
Group F: Kawasaki Frontale (JPN), Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR), Melbourne Victory (AUS), Winner of Playoff 3
Group G: Guangzhou Evergrande FC (CHN), Japan 2nd Club, Jeju United FC (KOR), Buriram United (THA)
Group H: Sydney FC (AUS), Shanghai Shenhua FC (CHN), Kashima Antlers (JPN), Winner of Playoff 1
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