Thailand’s Buriram United will face a big test in the form of two-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the 2018 AFC Champions League.
Buriram were drawn in Group G for next year’s edition of Asia’s premier club competition, which will see them meet Evergrande, Korea Republic’s Jeju United and a Japanese side that is yet to be determined.
🏆 The #ACL2018 Group Stage draw has been confirmed! Who will be crowned the new kings of Asia? #ACLDraw pic.twitter.com/tYplIQQEOn
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) December 6, 2017
Both sides previously met in the Champions League back in 2012, where Buriram caused a real upset by beating the Chinese giants 2-1 in Guangzhou, before Evergrande exacted revenge in the return encounter, winning by the same scoreline.
Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale, who won the J1 League in dramatic fashion on the final day of the season last weekend, were drawn in Group F and will take on South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai, Australia’s Melbourne Victory and the winner of East Playoff 3.
Group E features K League Classic winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Hong Kong debutants Kitchee and the winners of East Playoff 2 and 4.
#ACL2018 | The draw is complete, how did your team fare? Which group are you most looking forward to?
— Asian Football Feast (@AsianFballFeast) December 6, 2017
Rounding off the East Zone in Group H are Sydney FC, Shanghai Shenhua, Kashima Antlers and the winners of East Playoff 1.
Over in the West, this year’s runners-up Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia are in Group D and will have to negotiate their way past Iran’s Esteghlal, Al Rayyan of Qatar and the West Playoff 1 winners.
Saudi Arabia’s other representatives Al Ahli will be pitted against Al Jazira, Tractor Sazi and either Al Gharafa or Pakhtakor, who meet in West Playoff 3, in Group A.
Group C is 🔥
I hope all teams accept to play in each other's grounds, otherwise group A & D will almost entirely be played in neutral grounds! https://t.co/9Tr8BPQ8y1
— Wael Jabir (@waeljabir) December 6, 2017
Group C is already shaping up to provide some real drama, consisting of Iranian champions Persepolis, Al Sadd of Qatar, Emirati outfit Al Wasl and the winners of West Playoff 4.
Finally, Group B sees Qatari champions Al Duhail, Al Wahda, Lokomotiv Tashkent and the West Playoff 2 winners lock horns.
2018 AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW
Al Jazira (United Arab Emirates)
Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia)
Tractor Sazi (Iran)
Winner of West Playoff 3: Al Gharafa (Qatar) or Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan)
Al Duhail (Qatar)
Al Wahda (United Arab Emirates)
Lokomotiv Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Winner of West Playoff 2: Zob Ahan (Iran) or Aizawl (India)
Al Sadd (Qatar)
Al Wasl (United Arab Emirates)
Winner of West Playoff 4: Nasaf Qarshi (Uzbekistan) or Al Faisaly (Jordan)
Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)
Al Rayyan (Qatar)
Winner of West Playoff 1: Al Ain (United Arab Emirates) or Malkiya (Bahrain)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (Korea Republic)
Kitchee (Hong Kong)
Winners of East Playoff 4: Tianjin Quanjian (China) OR TBD
Winners of East Playoff 2: Japan fourth-ranked side OR TBD
Kawasaki Frontale (Japan)
Ulsan Hyundai (Korea Republic)
Melbourne Victory (Australia)
Winners of East Playoff 3: Shanghai SIPG (China) or TBD
Guangzhou Evergrande (China)
Japan second-ranked side
Jeju United (Korea Republic)
Buriram United (Thailand)
Sydney FC (Australia)
Shanghai Shenhua (China)
Kashima Antlers (Japan)
Winners of East Playoff 1: Suwon Samsung Bluewings (Korea Republic) OR TBD
Photo credit: Buriram United