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Sydney FC face Shanghai Shenhua in AFC Champions League group stage

Sydney FC could be set to go head-to-head with Carlos Tevez as the A-League champions were drawn to face Shanghai Shenhua in the group phase of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.

Graham Arnold's team will take on Chinese FA Cup winners Shenhua, who have yet to confirm whether Tevez will remain with the club after a difficult first season in China, as well as former Japanese champions Kashima Antlers and the winner of a playoff.

South Korea's Suwon Samsung Bluewings, a two-time winner of the Asian Club Championship, are the most likely team to complete the lineup in Group H.

Melbourne Victory, meanwhile, take on newly crowned J.League champions Kawasaki Frontale and former champions Ulsan Hyundai in Group F, which will also be rounded out by the winners of a playoff.

Kevin Muscat's side face the prospect of taking on Shanghai SIPG, who reached the semifinals last year, if the big-spending Chinese Super League side can see off either Chiangrai United from Thailand, Indonesia's Bali United or Tampines Rovers from Singapore.

Brisbane Roar will feature again in the playoffs and they will be looking for a repeat of last year's success at that stage when they meet either Myanmar's Shan United or the as-yet-undecided champions of the Philippines.

Victory in that game on Jan. 23 will take the Queensland club into a meeting with China's Tianjin Quanjian, who finished in third place in the Chinese Super League last season under recently departed coach Fabio Cannavaro.

Now coached by Paulo Sousa, Tianjin would represent a difficult challenge for Brisbane, with the reward being a place in Group E alongside two-time champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Hong Kong's Kitchee and another playoff winner.

In the remaining group in the eastern half of the draw, two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande will take on recently crowned Thailand champions Buriram United, Jeju United of South Korea and a Japanese representative.

Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, who lost in the final of this year's competition to Urawa Red Diamonds, will meet Iran's Esteghlal, Al Rayyan of Qatar and either Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates or Malkiya from Bahrain.

Urawa, winners of the title last month with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Al Hilal in the final, have not qualified for this year's competition as the defending champions do not gain an automatic berth in the draw.

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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