The inside track on Al Shabab's rivals in this year's Asian Champions League group stage
Asian Champions League: Guide to Group B teams
The inside track on Al Shabab's rivals in this year's Asian Champions League group stage:
Lekhwiya - Qatar
The domestic champions for the past two seasons lie second in the Qatar Stars League, boasting an unbeaten seven-game run. Nashat Akram, the Iraqi recently released by Al Nasr, spent a brief period there in 2011, however the links to the Dubai club do not finish there: in their Asian Champions League campaign last season, Lekhwiya drew Nasr, losing both times. In all, they registered only two victories from six group matches, but should be considered a threat under the Belgian Eric Gerets, a coach with a serious pedigree.
Star man: Sebastian Soria (striker)
Al Ittifaq - Saudi Arabia
During the 1980s, the Saudi side were a dominant force not only domestically but in the region, enjoying success in various Arabian Gulf competitions. They thrived in their first Asian Champions League campaign, too, reaching the last 16 in 2009, yet last year disappointed by losing a play-off in the final qualifier. Al Shabab are familiar foes, the two sides exchanging 4-1 home victories four years ago, yet if Ittifaq are to progress they need to improve on their form. They sit sixth in the Saudi Pro League.
Star man: Yousef Al Salem (striker)
Pakhtakor - Uzbekistan
The Uzbeks are the only club to have featured in all 11 Asian Champions Leagues. They have twice made the semi-finals, and in 2003 were one goal away from meeting Al Ain in the showpiece. They won six successive league and cup doubles from 2002 and in November collected championship No 9. However, they have not played competitively in three months - their league begins next week - and will be keen to avoid a repeat of last year's tournament, where they were beaten to second place in their group by Baniyas.
Star man: Stanislav Andreev (midfielder)