March 03, 2019
After nearly a month of captivating action in the preliminary and play-off stages, the Continent’s top 32 teams will kick start the 2019 AFC Champions League Group Stage tomorrow when Uzbekistan’s PFC Lokomotiv host Group B opponents Al Wahda FSCC from the UAE in Tashkent at 4:00pm (local time).
The thrilling Group B action will continue just hours later when two-time AFC Champions League winners Al Ittihad from Saudi Arabia take on Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC who will be looking to reach the knockout rounds for the first time.
Meanwhile in Group A, all eyes will be on Al Zawraa Club, who will be the first Iraqi side to feature in the competition’s group stage since 2008 when they travel to IR Iran to face Zobahan FC at the Foolad Shahr Stadium, Isfahan at 7:00pm (local time). Dubai-based Al Wasl FC and Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr complete the Group A action as both sides prepare to battle in the UAE at 7:20pm (local time).
Defending champions Kashima Antlers from Japan, who sealed their place in Group E following a convincing 4-1 victory over Australia’s Newcastle Jets in the play-offs, will open their title defence on Tuesday against 2015 AFC Cup champions, Johor Darul Ta’zim from Malaysia, who will be eager for a resolute performance in their first-ever AFC Champions League group stage appearance.
Last season’s runners-up Persepolis FC from IR Iran will be looking to continue their fine Continental form when they host Pakhtakor from Uzbekistan on the same day in what promises to be a roaring Azadi Stadium, which saw a record 100,000 fans gather for the second-leg of the 2018 final.
Teams from the East Zone will be the centre of attention on Wednesday as two-time champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC from Korea Republic play host to China PR’s Beijing FC, who will be eyeing their fourth appearance in the knockout stage.
Urawa Red Diamonds, champions in 2007 and 2017, will mark their return to the AFC Champions League having missed out last season in an exciting battle against Thailand’s Buriram United at the Saitama Stadium 2002 at 7:30pm (local time).