Qatar’s Lekhwiya find themselves slotted with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in the AFC Champions League draw which was held yesterday. Last season, the Qatar Stars League champions were knocked out in the quarter-final by Saudi’s Al Hilal. The other teams in their group are Iran’s Zobahan and the preliminary round winner between Bunyodkor (UZB) and Al Shabab (UAE).
Lekhwiya are currently experiencing a good turn of fortune in their Qatar Stars League campaign after a dismal start which had seen them drop to eighth in the standings after eight matches. Now they have registered four consecutive victories having scored 17 goals in those matches.
Meanwhile Asian title-holders Guangzhou Evergrande were bracketed with Sydney FC yesterday in what looks like a kind draw for their AFC Champions League title defence next year.
The A-League grand finalists are the only known quantity for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s well-heeled Chinese champions, who will start as favourites as they seek a third Asian title in four years.
In Group H, Evergrande and Sydney will face whoever is designated Japan’s third team after the Emperor’s Cup final in Tokyo on January 1, along with the winner of a play-off.
A-League champions Melbourne Victory were drawn with Japan’s second club and Suwon Samsung Bluewings in Group G, while former winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors were in Group E.
Among the West Asia groups, Saudi giants Al Hilal were drawn in Group C along with Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor and Tractorsazi Tabriz of Iran.
The group stage runs from February to March with the West and East Asian teams kept apart until the final in November.
Next year’s finalists will take home double this season’s prize money, with the winners getting $3 million and the runners-up $1.5 million.
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