SPORTS

Korean football giants Jeonbuk drawn with Hong Kong champs at 2018 AFC Champions League

By Yonhap
  • Published : Dec 7, 2017 - 09:47
  • Updated : Dec 7, 2017 - 09:47

South Korean pro football champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have been drawn with Hong Kong league winners at the 2018 Asian Football Confederation Champions League.

 In a drawing held at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday, Jeonbuk, the 2017 K League Classic winners, were paired with Kitchee SC, which will make their AFC Champions League group stage debut. They will be joined by two teams that come through the playoffs in Group E.

Jeonbuk are looking for their third ACL title. Choi Kang-hee's side previously won the tournament in 2006 and 2016.

The K League Classic runner-up Jeju United were drawn into a tough group. Jeju will face Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande, Thai outfit Buriram United and the winners of the Japanese Emperor's Cup in Group G.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competition Director Shin Man-gil stands in front of the final results of the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage draw at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 6, 2017. (EPA-Yonhap)

Jeju were the only South Korean team that reached the knockout stage in this year's ACL.

Korea Football Association Cup title holders Ulsan Hyundai will compete with J. League champions Kawasaki Frontale, Australian side Melbourne Victory and the playoff winners in Group F.

The Suwon Samsung Bluewings, which finished third in the Classic, will meet the winners between Eastern SC of Hong Kong and FLC Thanh Hoa of Vietnam to join the group stage. If they win the playoff stage, they'll go to Group H that features the Kashima Antlers of Japan, Shanghai Shenhua of China and Sydney FC of Australia.

Suwon will play their playoff match on Jan. 30, 2018.

The group winners and runners-up will reach the round of 16 at the ACL. The group phase will kick off in February.

South Korea has been the most successful nation at the continent's premier club tournament as its pro clubs have a combined 11 titles so far. (Yonhap)