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TOP DRAW: The teams at the ASEAN Club Championship. Photo of AFF

V.League 1 champions Hà Nội Police will play rivals at the ASEAN Club Championship Shopee Cup which will be held in July.

It will be the first time that a club-level tournament will be held in the region, featuring 12 of the best clubs. Ten of them are drawn in the main round with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Việt Nam having two representatives each; the Philippines and Singapore have one each and two winners of a play-off round.

The Police are in Group B with Buriram United of Thailand, Borneo FC Samarinda of Indonesia, Kuala Lumpua City FC of Malaysia, Lion City Sailor FC of Singapore and Kaya FC of the Philippines, after a draw conducted on May 9 in HCM City.

Among them, Thai champions Buriram United are considered the title favourite having had almost no worthy rival in the Thai league and having competed many times in the AFC Champions League.

Buriram United are home to national stars such as left-back Theerathon Bunmathan, striker Supachai Jaided, midfielder Peeradon Chamratsamee and winger Sasalak Haiphrakhon.

Borneo FC Samarinda were in Indonesian Liga 1's top four in the 2022-23 season and the club won the national title once in 2014.

Kuala Lumpur City finished seventh at the Malaysia Super League last season. The club won two Malaysian league titles, four Malaysian Cups, three Malaysian FA Cups and three Malaysian Charity Shields. It also played in the group stages of the Asian Club Championship twice.

Lion City Sailor competes in the Singapore Premier League, the top tier of the Singapore football league system. The team placed second in 2023.

Kaya FC are the Philippines Football League defending champions. The club have also won three Copa Paulino Alcantara and one United Football League Cup. Continentally, they have also competed in the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup.

Another Vietnamese representative, Đông Á Thanh Hóa, the National Cup champions, are in Group A against BG Pathum United FC of Thailand, Terengganu FC of Malaysia, PSM Makassar FC of Indonesia and two play-off winners.

Svay Rieng FC of Campuchia and Young Elephant FC of Laos and Shan United FC of Myanmar and Kasuka FC from Brunei will compete in the playoffs for their final round places.

The tournament will be held from July 17 to May 21, next year, with an even distribution of home and away games to give supporters the best chance of seeing a match. The two top teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will also be used at matches, making it the first tournament in the region to use the technology.

A total of US$1.5 million will be spent on the games, including on prize money.

In other news, the regional football governing body announced that the AFF U16 and U19 championships will organised in the Surakarta and Surabaya cities of Indonesia.

The U16 event will be held from June 21-July 7 at the Manahan Stadium and Sriwedari Football Field.

Surakarta is a city in the central Java region and a favourite tourist destination. 

The U19 tournament will be held from July 17-29 at the Gelora Bung Tomo and Gelora 10 November stadiums.

Surabaya is the second largest city of Indonesia and is on the east coast, with one of the busiest ports in the country.  VNS