ACL draw announced

Adelaide United FC will face some familiar foes while also having a sense of the unknown in the Group Stage of the AFC Champions League 2010, while Melbourne Victory will also face a stern test after the draw was held in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

Adelaide United FC will face some familiar foes while also having a sense of the unknown in the Group Stage of the AFC Champions League 2010, while Melbourne Victory will also face a stern test after the draw was held in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

Drawn in Group H, the Reds' third venture into Asia's prestigious club competition sees them up against reigning AFC Champions League title holders, Korea Republic's Pohang Steelers, China's Shandong Luneng and the Emperor's Cup Winner from Japan, which will be decided in January.

The Victory will face Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (Korea Republic), Beijing Guoan (China) and Kawasaki Frontale (Japan) in Group E.

Adelaide United will open its AFC Champions League campaign with a blockbuster at Hindmarsh Stadium against Pohang on February 23/24 (dates TBC by the Asian Football Confederation).

The Reds drew Pohang in their group in 2008 and stunned the Korean powerhouse with a 2-nil win in Korea in Match Day 1 before claiming a 1-nil victory in the return leg en route to becoming the first Australian club to progress to the competition's Knockout Stage.

China's Shandong Luneng are also no strangers to United, having been the Reds' first ever opponents in their debut AFC Champions League campaign in 2007. The Reds will host Shandong in the final round of the Group Stage, as the South Australian club looks to secure a place in the top two and progress through to the Round of 16.

Reds Coach Aurelio Vidmar admits it is a bonus heading to regions the club has been to and experienced before as United attempt to repeat the historic feats which saw Adelaide reach the Final in 2008.

“We're really happy that we know a lot about where we're going, Shandong and Pohang. Obviously the teams have changed since we last played them but we'll certainly know the surroundings and what to expect so that's a real positive," Vidmar said.

While for Melbourne, Kawasaki qualified for the tournament after finishing second in the 2009 J-League season, while Seongnam is Korea Republic's most successful club with a record seven league trophies to its name and was runner-up in the ACL 2004.

Beijing recently claimed its first Chinese Super League crown, but Football Operations Manager Gary Cole is confident Melbourne Victory will be competitive in its second ACL appearance.

"Having competed in the ACL once, we are all eagerly anticipating another opportunity and Seongnam, Beijing and Kawasaki will provide a great challenge come February next year," Cole said.

"The ACL is growing in prominence throughout Asia and Australia and it has become a very strong competition, but we believe we have a team that can really make an impact."

"The Hyundai A-League remains our key focus for the time being, but the ACL is certainly something that will provide a fantastic opportunity for our members and supporters to see Asia's best clubs in action."

Melbourne Victory was the first team to qualify for next year's tournament when it won the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 Premiership in January.

AFC Champions League 2010 - Group Stage

West Group A - Al Ahli (KSA), Al Gharafa (QAT), Al Jazira (UAE), Esteghlal (IRN) Group B - Zob Ahan (IRN), Al Ittihad (KSA), Bunyodkor (UZB), Playoff winners Group C - Al Ain (UAE), Sepahan (IRN), Al Shabab (KSA), Pakhtakor (UZB) Group D - Al Sadd (QAT), Al Ahli (UAE), Mes Kerman (IRN), Al Hilal (KSA)

East Group E - Seongnam Ilhwa (KOR), Melbourne Victory (AUS), Beijing Guoan (CHN), Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) Group F - Kashima Antlers (JPN), Jeonbuk Motors (KOR), Persipura Jayapura (IDN), Changchun Yatai (CHN) Group G - Henan Jianye (CHN), Gamba Osaka (JPN), Suwon Bluewings (KOR), Playoff winners Group H - Adelaide United (AUS), Shandong Luneng (CHN), Cup winners (JPN), Pohang Steelers (KOR)

Playoffs West - Al Karamah (Syria)/Al Wahda (UAE) v Churchill Brothers (India) Playoffs East - Singapore Armed Forces (Singapore)/SHB Da Nang (Vietnam) v Sriwijaya (Indonesia)/Muang Thong United (Thailand)