The Asian Champions League 2018 Draw took place today and gave us a number of interesting matchups ahead of the coming year, with play-off matches yet to be played to determine the final member in all of the groups.
Political tensions are yet to be solved, with the status of Iranian and Qatari clubs playing in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and vice versa, still unknown. The possibility of including East and West Asian clubs together was cancelled, with the first four groups as usual kept for West Asia’s sides, and the last four groups kept for East Asia. Whether clubs will pull out of the competition is yet to be seen.
Defending UAE Arabian Gulf League Champions Al Jazira were put in the first group with Al Ahli (KSA), in what is expected to be a hot encounter of offensive power. Group B sees newly formed Al Duhail of Qatar face off Al Wahda from the UAE. Group C has newcomers Al Wasl placed with Al Sadd and Persepolis, meanwhile the group of death has ACL 2017 finalists Al Hilal, with Al Rayyan of Qatar and Iranian giants Persepolis and the possibility of UAE giants Al Ain joining them by playoff.
West Asia’s groups in full:
A: Al Jazira [UAE] – Al Ahli [KSA] – Tractor Sazi [IRN] – Winner of Al Gharafa [QAT] / Pakhtakor [UZB]
B: Al Duhail [QAT] – Al Wahda [UAE] – Lokomotiv [UZB] – Winner of Zob Ahan [IRN] / Aizawi [IND]
C: Persepolis [IRN] – Al Sadd [QAT] – Al Wasl [UAE] – Winner of Nasaf Qarshi [UZB] / Al Faisaly [JOR]
D: Al Hilal [KSA] – Esteghlal [IRN] – Al Rayyan [QAT] – Winner of Al Ain [UAE] / Malkiya [BHR]