Former champions Guangzhou Evergrande from China will take on Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League following Thursday’s draw in Kuala Lumpur.
Guangzhou became the first Chinese side to be crowned continental champions in 23 years after edging out Korean counterparts FC Seoul in the 2013 final under former coach Marcello Lippi having beaten Kashiwa 8-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.
And with FIFA World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari now in charge having succeeded Fabio Cannavaro, Guangzhou will face a repeat encounter with the J.League side when the Chinese Super League champions travel to Japan for the first leg on August 26 before hosting the return fixture three weeks later.
“We respect each opponent and we will try our best to play well in the remaining matches,” said Guangzhou President Liu Yongzhuo.
“This is the beginning of the second half of our 10 year plan and within the next five years we want to be in the top 20 strongest teams in the world.
“We have a very good squad right now and I am very satisfied, but we will make some amendments to make us stronger.”
Guangzhou or Kashiwa will face either 2006 winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from Korea Republic or Japan’s Gamba Osaka, who lifted the AFC Champions League crown in 2008.
In the West, 2014 finalists and two-time Asian Club Championship winners Al Hilal from Saudi Arabia will face Michael Laudrup’s Qatari champions Lekhwiya in the quarter-finals.
And debutants Naft Tehran take on Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates, with the Iranian side hosting the first leg at Azadi Stadium.
“I hoped that before the draw we would meet Lekhwiya and the dream came true as we will meet our friends from Qatar and I hope that we can show a good game on the 25th of August,” said Al Hilal team official Turki Khalid Al Mesned.
“We lost the final last year, but every match has a loser and we have finally got over the effects of losing the final, and a week ago we won the King’s Cup in Saudi Arabia, and that will motivate our club forward to the final.”
The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played on August 25 and 26, with the return fixtures on September 15 and 16.
The semi-finals, meanwhile, will also be played on a home-and-away basis firstly on September 29 and 30, with the second legs then to be played on October 20 and October 21.
The final will also be played over two legs, with the semi-final winner from the East hosting the second leg on November 21 having travelled to the West for the first leg two weeks earlier.
AFC Champions League Quarter-Final Draw
Al Hilal v Lekhwiya
Naft Tehran vs Al Ahli
Kashiwa Reysol vs Guangzhou Evergrande
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Gamba Osaka