Thailand’s four AFC Champions League representatives now know who they will face during their continental adventure this coming spring, as the competition’s group stage draw was held yesterday.
BG Pathum United and Port FC earned direct passage to the group stage by finishing first and second respectively at the end of the league’s first leg, while both Chiangrai United and Ratchaburi FC face difficult trips to South Korea in the playoff stage. Daegu FC lie in wait for the Beetles, while the Dragons will make their continental debut against Pohang Steelers.
League leaders BG earned a place in Pot 1 of the draw, but will face defending ACL winners Ulsan Hyundai and Vietnamese champions Viettel FC in Group F. They will be joined by either Beijing Guoan, Brisbane Roar or Kaya-Iloilo of the Philippines depending on the results of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Port will face Chinese Super League outfit Shangdong Luneng and Hong Kong champions Kitchee in Group J, and will be joined by either Cerezo Osaka, Melbourne City or Myanmar’s Shan United.
Should Chiangrai make it past Daegu, two of Asia’s biggest sides lie in wait in the form of Japanese champions Kasawaki Frontale and Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande, as well as group-stage debutants United City (formerly Ceres-Negros) from the Philippines. Meanwhile, Ratchaburi or Pohang will face Jiangsu Suning, Nagoya Grampus and Johor Darul Ta’zim in Group G.
Asia’s premier competition will commence for Thai clubs on April 14th with the playoff round, before the group stage gets underway seven days later at a centralised venue, which is yet to be announced by the AFC.