Football 2 years ago

Sydney FC draw ACL champions Guangzhou

  • Sydney FC draw ACL champions Guangzhou

Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC will learn their Asian Champions League destinations in Thursday night's draw.

A winner's cheque of US$3 million - double the amount won by 2015 champions Guangzhou Evergrande - dangles in front of the two A-League hopefuls, who could be joined by Adelaide United among the 32-team competition if the South Australians win a qualifying play-off.

Australia's qualifiers will be hoping to replicate the breakout success of 2014 ACL winners Western Sydney Wanderers.

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The group stage draw is crucial for Victory and Sydney, given they've never made it out of their groups to the knock-out stages.

But Victory are determined that at the sixth time of asking, they will find a place among Asia's elite and crack through to the final 16 clubs.

Coach Kevin Muscat has dispatched his football operations boss Paul Trimboli to Kuala Lumpur for the draw, saying he is eager to start his planning.

"Who we play is out of our hands but we've prepared for this and it's an exciting time," Muscat said.

"Once the draw is the made, the logistical planning can begin.

"Our focus is on the Wanderers game this weekend, but Trimmers is in Kuala Lumpur for the draw and will be across it."

Whatever the draw, A-League clubs will face challenging trips to Asia as the domestic season hots up.

Four ACL matches will be scheduled in the final eight weeks of the season, with another between the first two weeks of the final.

The sixth and potentially decisive ACL match day will take place less than 72 hours after the A-League grand final.

Australian clubs cannot face each other in the group stage, which separates the 16 East Zone qualifiers into four groups of four.

ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2016 QUALIFIERS - EAST ZONE:

* Australia: Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC

* South Korea: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung Bluewings

* Japan: Sanfrecce Hiroshima (plus two others)

* China: Guangzhou Evergrande, Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty

* Thailand: Buriram United

* Vietnam: Becamex Binh Duong

Winners of four playoffs will join the above 12 teams. Adelaide United are Australia's representative in the playoffs, to take place on February 9.

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