By Sports Reporter/ Doha
Qatar’s Al Sadd will face Sepahan FC (Iran), Al Nassr (Saud Arabia) and the winner of a play-off in Group D in the 2020 AFC Champions League, following the conclusion of the draw at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia yesterday. Sadd, winners in 2011, lost in the semi-finalists in 2019 to eventual champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, another Qatar giants Al Duhail SC are in Group C along with Al Taawoun FC (Saudi), Sharjah FC (UAE) and Persepolis (Iran)
Defending champions Al Hilal will play in Group B. Hilal, who defeated Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan to lift the 2019 title after runners-up finishes in 2014 and 2017, will have Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (UAE), Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan) and the winner of a play-off for company. Two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande of China PR were drawn in Group G with Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR), Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS) and the winner of a play-off.
Korea Republic’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors - winners in 2006 and 2016 - will play in Group H with Japan’s Yokohama F.Marinos, Australia’s Sydney FC and a play-off winner while Ulsan Hyundai FC, champions in 2012, were drawn with Shanghai Shenhua FC (CHN), Perth Glory (AUS) and a play-off winner in Group F.
A total of 56 teams will be vying for the 2020 AFC Champions League, with the group stage divided into the East and West Zones. The 2020 season kicks off with the preliminary stage on January 14 with the two-leg final scheduled for November 22 and 28.
Raising the stakes, the upcoming edition will present the champions, should they not qualify through their domestic league, with an added incentive of a guaranteed spot in the Preliminary/Play-off stage of the 2021 season.
GROUP STAGE DRAW
Group A: Al Wahda FSCC (UAE);
Al Shorta (IRQ); Play-off winner (QAT/IRN/JOR/KUW); Play-off winner (KSA/UZB/TJK)
Group B: Al Hilal SFC (KSA); Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (UAE); Pakhtakor (UZB); Play-off winner (QAT/IRN/IND/BHR)
Group C: Al Duhail SC (QAT); Al Taawoun FC (KSA); Sharjah FC (UAE); Persepolis FC (IRN)
Group D: Sepahan FC (IRN); Al Sadd SC (QAT); Al Nassr (KSA); Play-off 1 winner (UAE/UZB/IRQ)
Group E: Beijing FC (CHN); Chiangrai United FC (THA); Play-off winner (JPN/AUS/SIN/IDN); Play-off winner (KOR/MAS/HKG)
Group F: Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR); Shanghai Shenhua FC (CHN): Perth Glory (AUS); Play-off winner (JPN/THA/PHI/MYA)
Group G: Japan 2nd Club (JPN); Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR); Guangzhou Evergrande FC (CHN); Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS)
Group H: Sydney FC (AUS); Yokohama F. Marinos (JPN); Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (KOR); Play-off winner (CHN/THA/VIE)
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