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S. Korean football champions to face Japanese, Australian league winners at AFC Champions League

Reigning South Korean professional football champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will face league winners from Japan and Australia at a continental club tournament next year.

The draw for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation Champions League took place in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, the 2019 K League 1 champions, were placed in Group H with Yokohama F. Marinos and Sydney FC. The one remaining spot in the group will be filled by a playoff winner.

(Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
(Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)

Yokohama won their fourth J1 League title in Japan this year, while Sydney defeated Perth Glory in the 2019 A-League Grand Final in May. Sydney are currently in first place in the A-League in the 2019-2020 season.

The K League 1 will have three representatives in the AFC Champions League, with Jeonbuk joined by the league runners-up Ulsan Hyundai FC and the Football Association Cup champions Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

FC Seoul, which finished third in the K League, will have to win a playoff match on Jan. 28 to join the three other South Korean teams.

Ulsan are in Group F against Shanghai Shenhua from China, Perth Glory from Australia and a playoff winner.

Suwon will take on Guangzhou Evergrande of China, Johor Darul Ta'zim of Malaysia and a Japanese club to be determined later in Group G.

For the East Region teams based in South Korea, Australia, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan -- all of them in Groups E to H -- the group stage will begin on Feb. 11. Their matches will be played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Clubs in Uzbekistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and the United Arab Emirates are in Groups A-D. Their group stage starts on Feb. 10 and their matches will be held on Mondays and Tuesdays.

From those eight groups of four, the top two teams from each will advance to the knockout stage.

The K League has produced the most AFC Champion League winners with 11, but none since Jeonbuk in 2016. The K League also hasn't had a team in the final since Jeonbuk's title run three years ago.

Jeonbuk have won two AFC titles, the first one coming in 2006, while Suwon won back-to-back crowns in 2001 and 2002. Ulsan won their lone title in 2012, and FC Seoul have had two runner-up finishes. (Yonhap)