Kashiwa face daunting debut group
Newly crowned Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol were handed a tough AFC Champions League debut Tuesday as they landed in a 'group of death' including this year's runners-up, Jeonbuk Motors. Kashiwa, who sealed the J.League title with a last-gasp win on Saturday, were also drawn against Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande, who boast the country's most expensive player, at the draw in Kuala Lumpur.
Last month, Jeonbuk missed out on their second AFC Champions League title by a whisker as they went down to Qatar's Al Sadd on penalties. And Guangzhou, boosted by Argentine midfielder Dario Conca swept to their first ever Chinese title last season by a margin of 15 points.
Kashiwa head into their first FIFA Club World Cup this week after making history by becoming the first team to win Japan's second and first divisions in consecutive seasons. Thailand's as-yet-undecided league champions will be the fourth team in Group H when Asia's eight-month club competition kicks off on 6 March.
Japan's Gamba Osaka were drawn against Uzbek outfit Bunyodkor and two teams from the play-off series in Group E. Australian champions Brisbane Roar will face Beijing Guoan, Korea Republic's Ulsan Horangi and the eventual winner of Japan's Emperor's Cup in Group F.