Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal did not have long to savour their Asian Champions League triumph before discovering they will face 2015 finalists Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in next year’s competition after the group stage draw on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal FC players and staff celebrate after wining against Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds in the second leg of the AFC Champions League 2019 Final in Saitama, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo November 24, 2019. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
The club from Riyadh defeated Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds to win the trophy last month for the first time since the competition started in 2002.
Yokohama F Marinos’ coach Ange Postecoglou will take the J-League champions to his native Australia after being drawn to face Sydney FC in Group H, which also features two-time champions Jeonbuk Motors from South Korea and a playoff winner.
Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande will challenge for a third title in Group F, where they were drawn to play Suwon Bluewings from South Korea and Johor Darul Ta’zim from Malaysia as well as the as-yet undetermined winner of Japan’s Emperor’s Cup.
Chiangrai United from Thailand will make their debut in the competition in Group E against China’s Beijing Guoan and a pair of playoff winners. Group F features Chinese FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua, Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea, Australia’s Perth Glory and another team from the playoffs.
Persepolis from Iran, who were runners-up in 2018, will take on Qatar’s Al Duhail, Al Taawoun from Saudi Arabia and Sharjah from the UAE in Group C. Fellow Iranians Sepahan meet 2019 semi-finalists Al Sadd from Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr as well as a team from the playoffs in Group D.
Group A will also feature two teams from the playoff rounds as well as Al Wahda from the UAE and Iraq’s Al Shorta.
The group phase kicks off on Feb. 10 with the two top teams in each group advancing to the last 16, with the final due to be played over two legs on Nov. 22 and 28.
2020 Asian Champions League Draw:
Group A: Al Wahda (UAE), Al Shorta (IRQ), Playoff winner, Playoff winner
Group B: Al Hilal (KSA), Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (UAE), Pakhtakor (UZB), Playoff winner
Group C: Al Duhail (QAT), Al Taawoun FC (KSA), Sharjah FC (UAE), Persepolis FC (IRN)
Group D: Sepahan (IRN), Al Sadd (QAT), Al Nassr (KSA), Playoff winner
Group E: Beijing Guoan (CHN), Chiangrai United FC (THA), Playoff winner, Playoff winner
Group F: Ulsan Hyundai (KOR), Shanghai Shenhua (CHN), Perth Glory (AUS), Playoff winner
Group G: Emperor’s Cup Winner (JPN), Suwon Bluewings (KOR), Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN), Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS)
Group H: Sydney FC (AUS), Yokohama F Marinos (JPN), Jeonbuk Motors (KOR), Playoff winner
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