Defending champ Ulsan targets third ACL crown

Defending champions Ulsan Hyundai Motors were yesterday drawn against Thailand’s BG Pathum United and Vietnam’s Viettel for the start of their campaign to win a third AFC Champions League title.

The group will be completed by the winner of a playoff featuring Australia’s Brisbane Roar, Kaya-Iloilo of the Philippines and Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.

The South Korean giant triumphed in Asia’s premier club football tournament for the second time last month with a 2-1 win over Iran’s Persepolis in Qatar.

In the draw for the group stage, Persepolis, which was also ACL runner-up in 2018, was placed in the same group as al-Rayyan of Qatar and India’s FC Goa.

Also, 2019 champion al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia was drawn against Shabab al-Ahli of the UAE and FC Istiklol of Tajikistan.

Two-time champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea will face Japan’s Gamba Osaka and Australia’s Sydney FC in Group H.

China’s two-time champion Guangzhou FC — or Guangzhou Evergrande — was drawn against Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale and United City FC of the Philippines.

This year’s event has been expanded to 40 teams, from 32, with group-stage matches taking place in one West Asian and one East Asian hub from mid-April.

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