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ACL Group Stage Draw: Jeju United

Jeju United learned of their Asian Champions League group stage opponents for the 2018 season and have been drawn to play against the Chinese Super League Champions, Japan's Emperor's Cup winners as well as the Champions of Thailand .
(Image via Jeju United)

ICYMI: Ryan Walters and Paul Neat covered the draw live from the K League United studio:



On Wednesday at the Asian Football Confederation's Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, the draw for the group stages of the 2018 AFC Champions League (ACL) was made. K League Runners Up Jeju United went straight into the draw for group stages and were drawn into Group G.

Group G

Guangzhou Evergrande (China)
Cerezo Osaka (Japan)
Jeju United (South Korea)
Buriram United (Thailand)

Fixtures

Wednesday 14th February 2018 Cerezo Osaka (H)
Wednesday 21st February 2018 Buriram United (A)
Tuesday 6th March 2018 Guangzhou Evergrande (A)
Wednesday 14th March 2018 Guangzhou Evergrande (H)
Wednesday 3rd April 2018 Buriram United (H)
Tuesday 17th April 2018 Cerezo Osaka (A)

Overview

Guangzhou Evergrande enter as the Champions of the Chinese Super League and were crowned as such under the stewardship of former Brazil National Team boss Luiz Felipe Scolari. Scolari departed in November after a trophy-laden spell which included an ACL triumph in 2015. Legendary Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro returned to the club as his replacement; he departed fellow CSL side and ACL playoff hopefuls Tianjin Quanjin to once again take up his place in the dugout at Tianhe Stadium. Guangzhou have a rich history in the competition having lifted the ACL trophy on two occasions, the first in 2013 under Marcello Lippi beating FC Seoul on away goals, and a second title two years later.  Last season Evergrande made it to the quarterfinals but were beaten by CSL rivals Shanghai SIPG. 

Japan's Emperor's Cup is still at its semi-final stage with the last four teams set to battle it out for a place in the final on Saturday 23rd December, with the final itself not set to take place until New Year's Day. One of Cezero Osaka, Vissel Kobe, Kashiwa Reysol and Yokohama F. Marinos could make their way into Group G.

Cerezo Osaka, 3rd in the J1 League, last appeared in the ACL in 2014 when they made it to the Round of 16, losing to Guangzhou Evergrande. Cerezo Osaka came up against Pohang Steelers that year, losing 2-0 at home and drawing 1-1 away at the Steelyard. In 2011 Cerezo Osaka played Jeonbuk Hyundai in the group stages as well as the quarterfinals, bowing out to the eventual runners-up for what was their best finish in Asian continental competition.

Thai League T1 Champions Buriram United were last in the ACL in 2016 where the four times Thai title winners faced FC Seoul in the group stage. Buriram lost 6-0 at home to a rampant FC Seoul before a narrow 2-1 defeat at Sangnam in the return fixture. The 2018 campaign will be Buriram's sixth appearance in the ACL; their best showing was in 2013 when they reached the quarterfinals.


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