KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- The group stage draw of the 2021 AFC Champions League was unveiled here on Wednesday following a virtual drawing ceremony.
The 2021 AFC Champions League will see 40 teams in the group stage - an increase of eight - with one additional group each in the East and West Zones.
In the East Zone, South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai, who defeated Iran's Persepolis FC in the 2020 final to lift the AFC Champions League trophy for the second time, will have Thailand's BG Pathum United, Vietnam's Viettel FC and a playoff winner, possibly China's Beijing Guoan for company in Group F.
Group G comprises Chinese league champions Jiangsu FC, Japan's Nagoya Grampus, Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim and a playoff winner.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea, Japan's Gamba Osaka, Tampines Rovers of Singapore and Australia's Sydney FC were drawn in Group H with Japan's Kawasaki Frontale, Guangzhou FC of China, United City FC of the Philippines and a playoff winner between the teams in Group I.
China's Shandong Taishan FC, Port FC of Thailand, Kitchee SC of Hong Kong, China and a playoff winner were drawn in Group J.
In the West Zone, Iran's Persepolis, also runners-up in 2018, were drawn with Al Rayyan of Qatar, India's FC Goa and a playoff winner in Group E.
2019 champions Al Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia, Shabab Al Ahli of UAE, FC Istiklol of Tajikistan and a playoff winner drawn in Group A.
Group B comprises UAE's Sharjah, Iran's Tractor FC, Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan and a playoff winner while Group C will see Qatar's Al Duhail SC, Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli Saudi, Esteghlal of Iran and Al Shorta of Iraq bidding to advance to the Round of 16.
Qatar's Al Sadd SC, Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr, Al Wehdat of Jordan and a playoff winner were drawn in Group D.
The 2021 AFC Champions League kicks off with the preliminary stage on April 7 with the group stage - which kicks off on April - to be played in centralized venues.