Urawa Reds have been handed a tough quarterfinal draw in the AFC Champions League against defending champions Chonbuk Motors of South Korea.

News photoThe players of Urawa Reds look disappointed after giving up the second goal to Shanghai Shenhua of China
during their A3 Champions Cup match on Wednesday at Jinan, China. Shanghai won 3-1.

The draw made Wednesday also paired Kawasaki Frontale against Iran’s Sepahan in the last eight.

The two-legged quarterfinals, with teams playing home and away, take place on Sept. 19 and Sept. 26. The semifinals will be played over two legs on Oct. 3 and Oct. 24.

Reigning J. League champion Urawa guaranteed its place in the last eight with a 0-0 draw against Sydney FC in the last round of the group stages in May.

Chonbuk received a bye to the knock out stages.

Kawasaki wrapped up qualification early in its group, becoming the first Japanese team ever to advance past the first stages of the revamped continental competition.

The other quarterfinals pit South Korea’s Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma against last year’s finalist Al Karama of Syria and the United Arab Emirates’ Al Wahda against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal.

Holger Osieck’s Reds will be up against Seongnam or Al Karama if they get past Chonbuk, with Frontale potentially facing either Al Wahda or Al Hilal in the other semifinal.

Chonbuk is struggling in midtable in the K-League this season. The Reds are in second place in the J. League, seven points behind leaders Gamba Osaka. Kawasaki sits one point behind the Reds in third.

Chonbuk beat Al Karama 3-2 on aggregate in the two-legged final last year, becoming the first team from East Asia to win the AFC title.

This year’s final will be played over two legs, home and away, on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14.

Meanwhile, Japan Under-22s were drawn with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Vietnam on Wednesday in a tough final Asian qualifying round for the Beijing Olympics.

Only the team that finishes top of Group C will advance to the 2008 Games soccer tournament.

The Japanese, coached by Yasuharu Sorimachi, were the only team to qualify with a 100 percent record in the second stage of qualifying.

Group A brings together Iraq, North Korea, Lebanon and Australia, while Group B includes South Korea, Bahrain, Syria and Uzbekistan.

The match dates for the final qualifying groups are Aug. 22, Sept. 8, Sept. 12, Oct. 17, Nov. 17 and Nov. 21.

Vietnam names squad

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) Vietnam coach Alfred Riedl has put his faith in youth for the upcoming Asian Cup, including 12 players from the national under-23 team in his training squad.

The Vietnam Olympic side’s recent qualification for the regional qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Games gave Riedl the confidence to include the youth players in the full national team.

“Young players have proved their ability recently. There is no reason not to call them for the national squad,” Austrian-born Riedl was quoted as saying by AFC Web site when announcing his 23-man squad. “We should create opportunities for young players to participate in elite events — it is good for Vietnam football.”

Vietnam — which is co-hosting the July 7-29 Asian Cup with Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand — will contest Group B with defending champion Japan, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

“We will try our best to prepare for this event. The three rivals of Vietnam are very strong,” Riedl said. “Japan, Qatar and UAE are better than Vietnam in all aspects, so Vietnam doesn’t have many opportunities to enter the next round.

“However, a good style of playing which shows improvement can satisfy fans.”

The Vietnam squad goes into camp June 18 ahead of warmup matches against Jamaica on June 24 and Bahrain on June 30. Vietnam’s first match in the Asian Cup is against the UAE on July 8.


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