Champs Guangzhou get mystery draw for AFC
Guangzhou Evergrande's fans celebrate as they leave the stadium following their team's victory on November 9, 2013
Marcello Lippi's team were matched with 2006 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, the eventual winners of Japan's Emperor's Cup and the survivors of a play-off series involving Australia's Melbourne Victory in Group G.
The draw leaves World Cup-winning coach Lippi, who is leading his team at the Club World Cup in Morocco this week, waiting to see if Guangzhou are facing a "group of death", a stroll to the knock-outs or something in between.
Lippi's Guangzhou will defend their first Asian title without talismanic midfielder Dario Conca, who is leaving the club along with his reportedly huge salary to return to Brazil's Fluminense.
Australia's Western Sydney Wanderers, making their debut just a year after being formed, were bracketed with China's Guizhou Renhe, Japan's Yokohama Marinos and 2012 winners Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea in Group H.
J-League winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima were pitted against this year's AFC runners-up FC Seoul and Australian champions Central Coast Mariners in Group F.
Thailand's Buriram United will look to build on their battling run to this year's quarter-finals when they take on former champions Pohang Steelers, China's Shandong Luneng and J-League team Kawasaki Frontale in Group E.
In Group C Saudi giants Al Ittihad, two-time winners of the AFC Champions League, were drawn with fellow former champions Al Ain of UAE and Iran's Tractorsazi Tabriz.
And in Group D, 2011 winners Al Sadd of Qatar are up against UAE's Al Ahli, Saudi outfit Al Hilal and Iran's Sepahan.
Under new Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rules, West and East Asian teams will be kept apart until the semi-finals. East Asian sides have dominated in recent years, winning seven of the last eight titles.
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