The five-time defending South Korean football champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will take on the Japanese league runners-up Yokohama F. Marinos in the top Asian club competition this year.
The group stage draw for the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League took place Monday. There will be 40 clubs in action, with 20 teams from the likes of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran making up the West Zone and 20 clubs from South Korea, China, Japan, among others, being part of the East Zone.
West Zone teams were paired into Groups A to E, and the rest were put into Groups F to J. Each group will feature four clubs. The 10 group winners and the top three runners-up from the West and East zones will qualify for the knockout stage.
Jeonbuk ended up in Group H with Yokohama, Hoang Anh Gia Lai of Hong Kong and a playoff winner to be determined later.
Jeonbuk made it to the group stage by virtue of winning the league title, and they are joined by the second-division club Jeonnam Dragons, the 2021 Korean FA Cup champions.
Jeonnam, the first K League 2 side to qualify for the AFC Champions League, will play BG Pathum United of Thailand, United City of the Philippines and Melbourne City of Australia.
Ulsan Hyundai FC and Daegu FC, who finished second and third, respectively, in the K League 1 last year, must win a playoff match to reach the group stage. Ulsan will take on the Thai club Port and Daegu FC will face another Thai side, Buriram United. Both playoff matches are scheduled for March 15.
If Ulsan win their playoff game, they will be placed in Group I against the 2021 Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale, the reigning Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim FC, and Guangzhou FC of China.
Should Daegu prevail in their playoff match, they will end up in Group F. Their opponents will be: the Chinese Super League and FA Cup winners Shandong Taishan FC, the Japanese Emperor’s Cup winners Urawa Red Diamonds and the Singaporean league champions Lion City Sailors.
The group stage for the East Zone will run from April 15 to May 1 in neutral sites. In the knockout stage, the round of 16 through the semifinals will take a one-and-done format, and matches will be played from Aug. 18 to 25, also in neutral venues.
The two-legged finals will be played in a home-and-away format on Feb. 19 and 26, 2023.
Jeonbuk won the AFC title in 2006 and 2016. Ulsan also have two Asian crowns, from 2012 and 2020. Daegu FC and Jeonnam have not yet won on the Asian stage.
Source: Yonhap News Agency