Aussie sides face tough Champions League debuts
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Adelaide United and Sydney FC face difficult routes to the quarter-finals as Australian clubs debut in the Asian Champions League competition next year.
In the draw made here on Friday, Premiership winners Adelaide were handed trips to Vietnam, South Korea and China while A-League champions Sydney must travel to Japan, China and Indonesia.
Adelaide chief executive officer Michael Petrillo was satisfied after his side were placed in Group G against Vietnam's Long An, South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa and China's Shandong Luneng.
'It's an exciting time for us going into Asia and getting used to new conditions,' he told Reuters. 'It would be difficult no matter who we got in the draw.
'Shandong and Seongnam are very good sides while we don't know much about the Vietnamese.'
Sydney are in Group E with Japan's Urawa Reds, China's Shanghai Shenhua and Persik Kediri, of Indonesia.
The top team from each of the seven preliminary groups advance to the quarter-finals, where they are joined by defending champions Chonbuk Motors, of South Korea.
The opening round of matches start on March 7 next year. It will be the first time Australian clubs play in Asia's premier club competition since joining the Asian Football Confederation earlier this year.
Shuzo Nakamura, general manager of J.League side Urawa Reds, said his team are ready to face Sydney.
'We had our training camp in Sydney this year,' he said. 'There's no jet-lag, we know the conditions and we are looking forward to playing them.'
Last year's runners-up, Syria's Al Karame, have been thrown together with Uzbekistan's Neftchi, Iraq's Al-Najaf and Al-Sadd, of Qatar, in Group C.
Inaugural 2003 winners, United Arab Emirates' Al Ain, are in Group D with Syria's Al-Ittihad, Sepahan, of Iran, and Saudi Arabians Al-Shabab.
Group A comprises Al Arabi SC (Kuwait), Al-Wahda (UAE), Al-Rayyan SC (Qatar) and Al-Zawar'a (Iraq).
Uzbekistan double winners Pakhtakor, Kuwait SC, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia) and Esteghlal (Iran) make up Group B while Group F features Bangkok University (Thailand), Kawasaki Frontale (Japan), Arema Malang (Indonesia) and Chunnam Dragons (South Korea).
The two-legged final is scheduled for November 2 and 9, 2007.