Thai Premier League champions Buriram United will lock horns with Japanese giants Gamba Osaka in the 2015 AFC Champions League after both were drawn in Group F on Thursday.
The Thunder Castle, who have played in Asia’s premier club competition in the past three years, head into next season looking to emulate their stunning performances in 2013 – when they reached the quarter-finals before ultimately being eliminated by Esteghlal.
They would have been disappointed with their performances last season after winning just one match in a group that also included Pohang Steelers, Cerezo Osaka and Shandong Luneng Taishan.
However, their bid to advance to the knockout round in 2015 will also be a tricky one following Thursday’s draw, which will see them come up against newly-crowned J.League 1 champions Gamba.
The other group that has been drawn in the group are Korea Republic’s Seongnam, who won the Champions League back in 2010, while the final team will be decided through the playoffs, which could see Central Coast Mariners complete the Group F line-up.
Meanwhile, Becamex Binh Duong’s reward for winning the V.League 1 this year will be enticing ties against South Korean outfit Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, China’s Shandong Luneng Taishan and another team through the playoffs.
A total of seven other Southeast Asian sides will also be taking part in the Champions League, where they will be looking to book a spot in the group stage through the playoffs.
The first stage of qualifying will see Myanmar’s Yadanarbon lock horns with Singaporean champions Warriors FC, while big-spending Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia play Bengaluru of India.
Two Thai sides will then join the action in the second stage with Chonburi taking on Hong Kong’s Kitchee and Bangkok Glass meeting the winners of the Yadanarbon-Warriors tie.
Finally, V.League 1 side Ha Noi T&T will face Indonesia Super League champions Persib Bandung for a place in the final round of the playoffs, where a huge hurdle awaits in the form of FC Seoul.