United City set to face Japanese champ Kawasaki, China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in Champions League

Published January 27, 2021, 6:49 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PFL

Philippines Football League champion United City is set to take on clubs from Japan and China, among others, for its maiden foray in the AFC Champions League.

United City was drawn in Group I of the prestigious continental competition’s East region along with Japanese champion Kawasaki Frontale and Chinese Super League powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande.

Also part of the group is the winner of the playoff round between South Korea’s Daegu and Thailand’s Chiangrai United.

The group stage is slated April 21 to May 7 under a centralized setup due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Champions League was expanded to 40 teams beginning with this year’s competition, which also assured the Philippines a direct slot in the group stage.

UCFC earned that berth after capturing the PFL title last November.

But United City faces strong opposition in Kawasaki, which completed a domestic double with its triumph in the J1 League and the Emperor’s Cup.

Guangzhou is regarded as one of Asia’s top clubs, having won the Champions League in 2013 and 2015. The club managed by Italian legend Fabio Canavarro was runner-up in last season’s Chinese Super League.

Meanwhile, Kaya-Iloilo will play in Group F if it ends up qualifying through the preliminary stage and playoff round.

Read: Kaya-Iloilo drawn with Malaysia’s Terengganu, Singapore’s Geylang in AFC Cup group stage

The PFL bridesmaid is set to face Australia’s Brisbane Roar in the preliminary stage on April 7 with the winner taking on Beijing in the playoff.

Kaya is still assured of playing in Group I of the AFC Cup if it fails to win both qualifying matches.