Japan's Cerezo Osaka knocked out cross-town rivals Gamba Osaka to reach the quarter-finals [AFP]

Surprise Asian Champions League quarter-finalists Cerezo Osaka have been pitted against Korea's Jeonbuk Motors in the last eight of Asia's premier footballing event.

The rematch between the two qualifiers from Group G was announced when the quarter-final pairings were drawn at the Asian Football Confederation headquarters on Tuesday.

The honours were even between the 2006 winners Jeonbuk and Japan's Cerezo who had a win each in their home-and-away group stage matches. And the stage looks set for a thrilling showdown.

In other two-leg quarterfinals set for September: two-time Asian Champions League winners Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia will meet K-League team FC Seoul; South Korean powerhouse Suwon Samsung Bluewings face 2010 finalists Zob Ahan of Iran; and Sepahan, the Iran club which lost the 2007 final, will meet Al Sadd of Qatar.

The winner between Jeonbuk and Cerezo will meet either Al Ittihad or South Korean title-holders FC Seoul, to reach the final.


"I think we have a chance to go in to the finals," said Cerezo team official Akira Hasegawa.

"I believe in our team. Under the guidance of Brazilian coach Levir Culpi I believe we have a chance to win the Champions League."

ACL Quarters

First Leg

Wednesday 14 September
 Cerezo v Jeonbuk Motors
 Al Ittihad v Seoul
 Sepahan v Al Sadd
 Suwon Bluewings v Zobahan

Second Leg

Tuesday 27 September
 Jeonbuk v Cerezo
 Seoul v Al Ittihad

Wednesday 28 September
 Al Sadd v Sepahan
 Zobahan v Suwon Bluewings


Wednesday 19 October
Wednesday 26 October
 Al Sadd or Sepahan v Zobahan or Suwon Bluewings
 Jeonbuk or Cerezo v Seoul or Al Ittihad

Winner of second semi to host final on November 4 or 5, date TBC

Eventual winner qualifies for FIFA Club World Cup

The winner of the second semi-final drawn - either Cerezo, Jeonbuk, Al Ittihad or FC Seoul - was given the right to host the final on either November 4 or 5.

The Bluewings, one of three Korean clubs who can make it three Asian titles in a row for the dominant K-League, said their hopes had been rocked by an injury crisis which has prompted a late scramble for players.

"It's going to be difficult for us - we only have two strikers and one is injured," said Bluewings general manager Lee Ho-Seung.

"We need to find at least two to three new strikers. We are looking for foreign players. I heard the two Iranian clubs are strong. I'm not confident of winning the title."

Al Sadd were also sizing up the nightmare task of having to beat Iran's Sepahan, followed by Zobahan or Korea's Bluewings, and then win the one-off final away from home.

"It will be tough for us all the way," said sports director Mohamad Dulam Al-Boloushi.

Saudi contenders

Ittihad will host the first leg of their semi-final on September 14 before travelling to Seoul for the September 27 return match.

The Saudi club is one of the most powerful in Asia, having won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005 and losing the 2008 final to South Korea's Pohang Steelers.

Club spokesman Adnan Jastania said Ittihad was determined to go one better in 2011.

"We are anxious to do something after losing to Pohang in the final two years ago,'' he said.

Al Ittihad registered back-to-back wins in 2004 and 2005 but the continental title has since resided in East Asia after victories by Jeonbuk Motors, Urawa Red Diamonds, Gamba Osaka, Pohang Steelers and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.

Source: Agencies