News ID: 319451
Published: 0937 GMT January 17, 2022

AFC Champions League draw: Sepahan given Al Duhail task, Foolad to face Shabab Al Ahli powered by Iranian duo

AFC Champions League draw: Sepahan given Al Duhail task, Foolad to face Shabab Al Ahli powered by Iranian duo

Sports Desk

Persian Gulf Pro League club Sepahan will be facing Qatari giant Al Duhail in the group stage of the 2022 AFC Champions League, with Foolad Khuzestan going head-to-head with Emirati side Shabab Al Ahli and its Iranian partnership of Ahmad Nourollahi and Mehdi Qayedi.

The draw for the upcoming Asian elite clubs’ competition took place on Monday at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where 33 teams, who have already secured their places in the group phase, were divided into 10 groups – with the remaining seven slots being decided through playoffs in mid-March.

Moharram Navidkia’s Sepahan, which finished second in the Iranian league last season – was drawn alongside Al Duhail – the runner-up in the Qatar Stars League – in Group D, also featuring Uzbek champion Pakhtakor and the winner of the playoff tie between Al Taawoun of Saudi Arabia and Syrian side Al Jaish.

Iranian Hazfi Cup champion Foolad and Shabab Al Ahli will be joined by Qatar’s Al Gharafa and its Italian manager Andrea Stramaccioni – a former head coach of Iranian club Esteghlal – and debutant Ahal FC of Turkmenistan in Group C.

The group stage in the West Zone will kick off on April 7 and will be played in a double round-robin format over three weeks in one centralized venue due to “emerging complications caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the global football schedule before and after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November and December.

The bidding to host the group stage will be opened soon to the AFC’s Member Associations, according to the Asian football governing body.

Iran will be represented by only two clubs at this year’s competition.

Persepolis – runner-up in 2018 and 2020 – and two-time champion Esteghlal were declared ineligible to participate by the AFC’s independent Entry Control Body after the Tehran-based archrivals failed to meet “all of the mandatory criteria required under the AFC Club Licensing Regulations.”


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