AFC CL draw: UAE clubs discover their fate
The UAE’s representatives bidding for AFC Champions League glory discovered who they would face in the group stages of the 2014 competition after the draw was made in Kuala Lumpur.
Reigning league champions Al Ain, who are the only UAE club to win the Champions League when they lifted the trophy in 2003, were drawn alongside Saudi giants and two-time tournament winners Al Ittihad and Iran’s Tractorsazi Tabriz in Group C. The fourth team will be the winners of the West play-off series two.
Current leaders of the Arabian Gulf League Al Ahli will also face former champions after they were drawn in Group D with 2011 winners Al Sadd of Qatar, Saudi club Al Hilal and Iran’s Sepahan.
Al Jazira, who finished third in the UAE league last season, find themselves in Group A alongside Iranian Pro League champions Esteghlal, Qatari club Al Rayyan and Saudi side Al Shabab.
Meanwhile, Bani Yas are yet to qualify but assuming the Abu Dhabi club successfully negotiates its way through the preliminaries, will be placed in Group B with Saudi champions Al Fateh, Iran’s Foolas Khuzestan and Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan.
Elsehwere, China's Guangzhou Evergrande were kept guessing over the group opponents for their AFC Champions League title defence when they were drawn with two still unknown teams.
Marcello Lippi's team were matched with 2006 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, the eventual winners of Japan's Emperor's Cup and the survivors of a play-off series involving Australia's Melbourne Victory in Group G.
The draw leaves World Cup-winning coach Lippi, who is leading his team at the Club World Cup in Morocco this week, waiting to see if Guangzhou are facing a "group of death", a stroll to the knock-outs or something in between.
Australia's Western Sydney Wanderers, making their debut just a year after being formed, were bracketed with China's Guizhou Renhe, Japan's Yokohama Marinos and 2012 winners Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea in Group H.
J-League winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima were pitted against this year's AFC runners-up FC Seoul and Australian champions Central Coast Mariners in Group F.
Thailand's Buriram United will look to build on their battling run to this year's quarter-finals when they take on former champions Pohang Steelers, China's Shandong Luneng and J-League team Kawasaki Frontale in Group E.
2014 AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUPS
Al Rayyan (QAT)
Al Jazira (UAE)
Al Shabab (KSA)
Al Fateh (KSA)
Foolad Khuzestan (IRI)
Winners of West playoff series one (Bani Yas?)
Al Ain (UAE)
Al Ittihad (KSA)
Tractorsazi Tabriz (IRI)
Winners of West playoff series two
Al Sadd (QAT)
Al Ahli (UAE)
Al Hilal (KSA)
Pohang Steelers (KOR)
Buriram United (THA)
Shandong Luneng (CHN)
Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (JPN)
Central Coast Mariners (AUS)
FC Seoul (KOR)
Winners of East playoff series one
Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN)
Emperor's Cup Winners (JPN)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR)
Winner of East playoff series two
Western Sydney Wanderers (AUS)
Guizhou Renhe (CHN)
Yokohama Marinos (JPN)
Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)