Kuala Lumpur: Recently crowned winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors learned their Group Stage opponents for the 2017 edition of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday following the competition’s official draw in Kuala Lumpur.
The Korea Republic giants, who defeated Al Ain 3-2 on aggregate to seal a second continental success, will begin their title defence against Australia's Adelaide United, Jiangsu FC from China and a yet to be decided Play-off winner, in what appears to be a decidedly difficult Group H.
Beaten finalists and United Arab Emirates powerhouse Al Ain will, meanwhile, begin their latest AFC Champions League campaign from Group C where they are set to face formidable foes in the shape of Al Ahli FC from Saudi Arabia, Iran's Zobahan FC and the winner of the Play-off between Qatar's El Jaish SC and FC Bunyodkor from Uzbekistan.
Elsewhere, 2013 and 2015 winners Guangzhou Evergrande have been drawn in Group G along with Suwon Samsung Bluewings from Korea Republic, Eastern SC of Hong Kong and Japan's third - yet to be decided - club, while Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers, champions in 2014, find themselves in Group F with K League Classic winners FC Seoul, Japan's second club and one of Shanghai SIPG, Sukhothai FC or Yadanarbon FC.
Group A 1. Al Ahli FC (UAE) 2. PFC Lokomotiv (UZB) 3. Al Taawoun (KSA) 4. Play-off winner (IRN/QAT)
Group B 1. Esteghlal Khouzestan FC (IRN) 2. Al Jazira (UAE) 3. Lekhwiya SC (QAT) 4. Play-off winner (KSA/UZB/BHR)
Group C 1. Al Ahli Saudi FC (KSA) 2. Zobahan FC (IRN) 3. Al Ain FC (UAE) 4. Play-off wnner (QAT/UZB)
Group D 1. Al Rayyan SC (QAT) 2. Al Hilal SFC (KSA) 3. Persepolis FC (IRN) 4. Play-off winner (UAE/JOR/IND)
Group E 1. Kashima Antlers (JPN) 2. Muangthong United (THA) 3. Play-off winner (CHN/AUS/PHI/SIN) 4. Play-off winner (KOR/HKG/VIE)
Group F 1. FC Seoul (KOR) 2. Japan 2nd Club (JPN) 3. Western Sydney Wanderers (AUS) 4. Play-off winner (CHN/THA/MYA)
Group G 1. Guangzhou Evergrande FC (CHN) 2. Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR) 3. Japan 3rd Club (JPN) 4. Eastern SC (HKG)
Group H 1. Adelaide United (AUS) 2. Jiangsu FC (CHN) 3. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) 4. Play-off winner (JPN/THA/MAS)
AFC Champions League 2017 Preliminary Stage & Play-off Schedule
Preliminary Stage 2 (January 31, 2017) PS 2.1 - Al Wehdat (JOR) v JSW Bengaluru FC (IND) PS 2.2 - FC Nasaf (UZB) v Al Hidd Club (BHR) PS 2.3 - Al Sadd SC (QAT) v Bye PS 2.4 - FC Bunyodkor (UZB) v Bye
Play-off Stage (February 7, 2017) Al Wahda (UAE) v Winner PS 2.1 Al Fateh FC (KSA) v Winner PS 2.2 Esteghlal FC (IRN) v Al Sadd SC (QAT) El Jaish SC (QAT) v FC Bunyodkor (UZB)
Preliminary Stage 1 (January 24, 2017) PS 1.1 - Hanoi T&T (VIE) v Bye PS 1.2 - Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS) v Bye PS 1.3 - Yadanarbon FC (MYA) v Bye PS 1.4 - Global FC (PHI) v Tampines Rovers FC (SIN)
Preliminary Stage 2 (January 31, 2017) PS 2.1 - Kitchee (HKG) v Hanoi T&T (VIE) PS 2.2 - Bangkok United (THA) v Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS) PS 2.3 - Sukhothai FC (THA) v Yadanarbon FC (MYA) PS 2.4 - Brisbane Roar (AUS) v Winner PS 1.4
Play-off Stage (February 7, 2017) Jeju United FC (KOR) v Winner PS 2.1 Japan 4th Club (JAP) v Winner PS 2.2 Shanghai SIPG FC (CHN) v Winner PS 2.3 Shanghai Shenhua FC (CHN) v Winner PS 2.4