June 6, 2017 / 10:07 AM / in a year

Soccer-Guangzhou draw China rivals in Champions League showdown

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 (Reuters) - Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG will face off in an all-Chinese clash in the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team aim to claim a third continental crown in five seasons.

Scolari steered the club to victory in 2015, two years after Guangzhou claimed their first title under Marcello Lippi, and Andre Villas-Boas’ big spending SIPG stand between the southern Chinese club and a place in the semi-finals.

“We have to accept that anything is possible in the draw, but it’s a pity for the Chinese fans,” Guangzhou Evergrande vice president Liu Yongzhuo said of the all-China clash in an interview with Reuters.

“The fans would prefer that the two Chinese teams meet in the east final but we only have one goal and that is to be champion, so it doesn’t matter which opponent we face.

“The Shanghai SIPG side we meet in the Asian Champions League is the same team that we have met in the Chinese Super League.”

The teams have already met in the domestic league this season, with Guangzhou winning 3-2 in April, and they will meet again in July in the national competition before the first leg of the Asian Champions League in late August.

Scolari’s side currently lead the Chinese Super League by two points from SIPG as the story of the season for both clubs hinges on the head-to-head battles between them.

The winners of the all-China clash with meet either the 2007 champions Urawa Red Diamonds or Kawasaki Frontale as the two Japanese clubs were also drawn to face each other.

In the draw for the western half of the competition, last year’s beaten finalists Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates will take on two-time Asian champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, while Iran’s Persepolis meet another Saudi side, Al Ahli.

The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played from Aug. 21 with the return fixtures scheduled from Sept. 11. (Editing by John O’Brien)

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