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Dec 6, 2012

Guangzhou facing tough test

Jeonbuk Motors, Urawa Red Diamonds and Guangzhou Evergrande were drawn together in the standout group of the 2013 AFC Champions League draw.

Big-spending Chinese side Guangzhou, managed by World Cup winning Italian boss Marcello Lippi, will face a stern test of their credentials when faced by 2006 winners Jeonbuk and 2007 champions Urawa. Muangthong United complete the tricky looking Group F.

The draw for the 11th annual staging of Asia's premier club competition involved 35 teams from 10 countries being split into eight groups of four. East and West Asian teams were kept apart.

Ulsan Hyundai who won the competition in 2012, and qualified for the Club World Cup, will not be given the chance to defend their title after failing to finish in one of the four spots awarded to the Korean League.

Ulsan are replaced by Suwon Bluewings, who line-up in Group H alongside Australia's Central Coast Mariners and Guizhou Renhe of China and the winner of the Japanese Cup.

J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima return as one of four teams from Japan, and will face off in Group G against 2009 winners Pohang Steelers, Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan and Beijing Guoan of China.

K-League champions FC Seoul are the standout pick from Group E which also includes Japanese side Vegalta Sendai, China's Jiangsu Sainty and the winner of the playoff between Thai side Buriram United and Australia's Brisbane Roar.

The full AFC Champions League draw:

Group A: Al Shabab (Saudi Arabia), Al Jazira (UAE), Tractor Sazi Tabriz (Iran), El Jaish (Qatar).

Group B: Lekhwiya (Qatar), Al Ettifaq (Saudi Arabia), Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan), Sabaye Qom (Iran)/Al Shabab Al Arabi (UAE). Group C: Sepahan (Iran), Al Gharafa (Qatar), Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia), Al Nasr (UAE)/Lokomotive (Uzbekistan).

Group D: Al Ain (UAE), Esteghlal (UAE), Al Rayyan (Qatar), Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia).

Group E: FC Seoul (South Korea), Brisbane Roar (Australia)/Buriram United (Thailand), Vegalta Sendai (Japan), Jiangsu Sainty (China).

Group F: Guangzhou Evergrande (China), Jeonbuk Motors (South Korea), Muangthong United (Thailand), Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan).

Group G: Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan), Beijing Guoan (China), Pohang Steelers (South Korea), Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan).

Group H: Central Coast Mariners (Australia), Knockout Cup Champion (Japan), Guizhou Renhe (China), Suwon Bluewings (South Korea).

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