New Delhi: Federation Cup winners East Bengal have been clubbed alongside Hong Kong’s South China and Thailand’s Chonburi in an intriguing group in the draw for 2011 AFC Cup held in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Indonesian Super League runners-up side Persipura Jayapura are the fourth team in Group H.
East Bengal, who finished last in their group in the 2010 AFC Cup, play their first match against Chonburi at Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on March 2 next year.
The red-and-gold brigade will travel to Jakarta on March 16 to play their next group match at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium against Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia.
South China, the reigning Hong Kong first division league champions, were the semifinalists in the 2009 edition of the AFC Cup and they had recently beaten a visiting team of English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
Chonburi, on the other hand, played in AFC Champions League in 2008 and reached AFC Cup quarterfinals in 2009. They did not qualify for the 2010 AFC Cup.
Another Indian team, I-League champions Dempo will play in the AFC Champion League (ACL) play-off on February 19 and they will play in the AFC Cup if they fail to qualify for ACL.
If Dempo lose the ACL play-off on February 19, they will be clubbed in a relatively easy Group F in the AFC Cup along with TSW Pegasus of Hong Kong, Song Lam Nghe An of Vietnam and VB of Maldives.
Twenty-eight teams were slotted into eight groups of four teams each. Four teams that miss out on the AFC Champions League will complete the line-up. Five groups are in the West and three in the East.
Top two teams from each group will qualify for the knock-out round of 16.
East Bengal Group fixtures:
March 2: East Bengal vs Chonburi at Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, Kolkata.
March 16: East Bengal vs Persipura Jayapura at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta.
April 13: East Bengal vs South China at Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong.
April 26: East Bengal vs South China at Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, Kolkata.
May 3: East Bengal vs Chonburi at Chonburi Stadium, Chonburi, Thailand.
May 19: East Bengal vs Persipura Jayapura at Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, Kolkata.