KUALA LUMPUR – Defending champion Kashima Antlers face a tough showdown in the Asian Champions League quarterfinals after being drawn Tuesday against Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou Evergrande, two-time winners of the competition.
Urawa Reds, champions in 2007 and 2017, will take on Shanghai SIPG, who have never made it past the quarter-finals.
“It is our dream to win again, it is an important title for the club,” Kashima spokesman Ryugo Matsumoto told AFP after the draw at the Asian Football Confederation headquarters.
But he admitted it would be tough to beat Evergrande. As well as being coached by Italian World Cup winner Cannavaro, the Chinese giants boast top foreign names, including Brazilian midfielder Paulinho.
Evergrande will be hoping to improve on poor performances in recent years — they have not gone beyond the quarter-final stage since 2015.
Urawa may also have a fight on its hands in the quarterfinals, as well-heeled SIPG have a star-studded front line led by Brazil international Hulk.
The competition is split into two geographic zones, east and west, until the final.
The final lineup for the other two quarterfinals will be decided once the west zone completes matches in the round of 16.
All the quarterfinals are played over two legs in August and September.