Kuala Lumpur: Defending Asian champions Kashima Antlers face a tough showdown in the AFC Champions League quarter-finals after being drawn on Tuesday against Fabio Cannavaro's Guangzhou Evergrande, two-time winners of the competition.
Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds, champions in 2007 and 2017, will take on Shanghai SIPG, who have never made it past the quarter-finals. Kashima are aiming to become the first Japanese side to win back-to-back titles in Asia's premier football competition.
"It is our dream to win again, it is an important title for the club," Kashima spokesman Ryugo Matsumoto told AFP after the draw at the AFC headquarters in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
But he admitted it would be tough to beat Evergrande. As well as being coached by Italian World Cup winner Cannavaro, the Chinese giants boast top foreign names including Brazilian midfielder Paulinho.
Evergrande will be hoping to improve on poor performances in recent years — they have not gone beyond the quarter-final stage since 2015. Urawa may also have a fight on their hands in their quarter-final, as well-heeled SIPG have a star-studded front line led by Brazil international Hulk.
The competition is split into two geographic zones, east and west, until the final. The final lineup for the other two quarter-finals will be decided once the west zone completes matches in the Round of 16.
All the quarter-finals are played over two legs in August and September.
Draw (played over two legs, home and away)
Quarter-final 1: Al Nassr (KSA) / Al Wahda (UAE) V Al Duhail (QAT) / Al Sadd (QAT)
Quarter-final 2: Al Ittihad (KSA) / Zobahan (IRN) V Al Ahli (KSA) / Al Hilal (KSA)
Quarter-final 3: Shanghai SIPG (CHN) V Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN)
Quarter-final 4: Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) V Kashima Antlers (JPN)
Updated Date: Jul 02, 2019 18:56:42 IST