T1 giants Pathum to meet Kitchee in last 16 of ACL

T1 giants Pathum to meet Kitchee in last 16 of ACL

Kitchee's Raul Baena celebrates scoring against Vissel Kobe. (Reuters photo)
Kitchee's Raul Baena celebrates scoring against Vissel Kobe. (Reuters photo)

Thai League 1 side BG Pathum United will face history-makers Kitchee SC from Hong Kong in the last-16 round of the AFC Champions League.

The last-16 match-ups in the East zone were determined at the end of the group stages on Sunday night.

The other ties will see Daegu take on Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in an all-South Korean affair, Vissel Kobe play fellow Japanese club Yokohama F Marinos and Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim go up against Urawa Red Diamonds from Japan.

The last-16 matches are scheduled for Aug 18 and 19, the quarter-finals on Aug 22 and the semi-finals on Aug 25. All ties are single-match affairs.

The knockout stages in the West zone are scheduled from Feb 3-10, 2023. The final of the Asian club championship will be played over two legs on Feb 19 and 26.

On Sunday, Kitchee scored an injury-time equaliser to become the first Hong Kong team ever to reach the AFC Champions League knockout stages after a 2-2 draw with Vissel Kobe.

Kitchee needed at least a point against the Japanese side to progress, but their chances looked slim when Yoshinori Muto scored in the 87th minute to put Vissel ahead in Thailand's northeastern city of Buri Ram.

Raul Baena saved the day with a header in the 91st minute to snatch a point for Kitchee and send them into the knockout stages as one of the competition's three best second-placed teams, along with five group winners.

However, Spain's Baena was sent off in the final moments.

Lincoln opened the scoring for the Japanese outfit in the 44th minute and Dejan Damjanovic equalised for Kitchee just before the interval.

Vissel, who were missing former Barcelona star Andres Iniesta and were already guaranteed a place in the round of 16, went through as Group J winners.

Kitchee coach Alex Chu said: "This is football, you can win or lose but the one thing we can't afford to lose is our fighting spirit. My players' discipline was very good and I'm very happy. Today, we never gave up."

Chu said his side would have to elevate their game in the round of 16 against Group G winners Pathum.

"We have to play better and improve certain aspects because in the next round, the teams are very strong and we need to prepare better to face them," he said.

Kitchee beat Thailand's Chiang Rai United twice and lost to Kobe in the first group game between the two sides.

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