The draw for the 2021 AFC Champions League was announced on Wednesday. The tournament’s group stage will kick off on April 14 in “centralised venues”
The 2021 AFC Champions League will see 40 teams in the group stage – an increase of eight – with two additional groups added, one in the East Zone and one in the West Zone.
The draw, which was conducted virtually and streamed live, saw 2019 champions Al Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia, Shabab Al Ahli of the UAE, FC Istiklol of Tajikistan and a playoff winner drawn in Group A.
Group B comprises of the UAE’s Sharjah, Iran’s Tractor FC, Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan and a playoff winner while Group C will see Qatar’s Al Duhail SC, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli Saudi, Esteghlal of Iran and Al Shorta of Iraq bidding to advance to the Round of 16.
Qatar’s Al Sadd SC, Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, Al Wehdat of Jordan and a playoff winner will fight it out in Group D.
Meanwhile Group G pits Jiangsu FC of China, Japan’s Nagoya Grampus, Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim and a playoff winner.
Two-time winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of Korea Republic, Japan’s Gamba Osaka, Tampines Rovers of Singapore and Australia’s Sydney FC were drawn in Group H with Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale, two-time champions Guangzhou FC of China, United City FC of Philippines and a playoff winner the teams in Group I.
China’s Shandong Luneng FC, Port FC of Thailand, Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC and a playoff winner were drawn in Group J to complete the East Zone section of the draw.