Reigning AFC Cup champions Air Force Club from Iraq have been handed a potentially difficult start to their title defence following the official draw for the competition’s 2018 edition in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
With the AFC Cup continuing to be split into zones, Air Force Club – who last month defeated Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol to claim a second successive continental crown – find themselves in West Asia’s Group A, where they will have Malkiya Club from Bahrain, Jordan’s Al Jazeera and a yet to be determined Play-off winner for company.
Meanwhile, defeated finalists Istiklol will look to make amends for their 2017 disappointment when they begin their latest title assault from Group D in the Central Zone. They will face FC Alay from Kyrgyzstan, the Central Zone’s Play-off winner and a representative from Turkmenistan.
The fixtures for the Preliminary and Play-off stages – as well as the clubs competing in them – were also finalised at the event.
West Asia Zone
Group A – Malkiya Club (BHR), Al Jazeera (JOR), Air Force Club (IRQ), Winner of PO WEST 3 (OMA/PLE)
Group B – Al Ahed (LIB), Manama Club (BHR), Al Jaish (SYR), Al Zawraa Club (IRQ)
Group C – Al Faisaly or AL Wendat (JOR), Al Ansar FC (LIB), Dhofar Club (OMA), Al Wahda (SYR)
Group D – FC Istiklol (TJK), Turkmenistan 1st Club, FC Alay (KGZ), PO – winner (TJK/TKM/KGZ)
Group E – Aizwl FC (IND) or Mohun Bagan (IND), New Radiant SC (MDV), Bangladesh 1st Club, PO – Winner (IND/MDV/BHU)
Group F – Philippines 1st Club or 3rd club, Home United FC (SIN), Shan United (MYA) or Yadanarbon FC (MYA), Winner of PO Asean 3 (LAO/CAM)
Group G – Bali United FC (IDN) or Madura United (IDN), Philippines 2nd Club, FLC Than Hoa (VIE) or Hanoi FC (VIE), Yangon United FC (MYA)
Group H – Tampines Rovers (SIN) or Geylang International FC (SIN), Persija Jakarta (IDN), Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS) or Selangor FA (MAS), Song Lam Nghe An FC (VIE)
Group I – 4.25 SC (PRK), Hang Yuen FC (TPE), Benfica Macau (MAC), PO – Winner (PRK/MNG)
22 January – Cambodia 1st club vs. Philippines 2nd Club
29 January – Philippines 2nd Club vs. Cambodia 1st Club
22 January – Lao Toyota FC (LAO) vs.Home United FC (SIN)
29 January – Home United FC (SIN) vs.Lao Toyota FC (LAO)
Yangon United FC (MYA) – receive bye to AFC Cup 2018 Group Stage