The heavyweight A-League club are set to return to continental competition, with the regional governing body rubber-stamping their admission to the qualifying roundsMelbourne Victory have been granted a qualifying spot for the Asian Champions League following a meeting of the Asian Football Confederation on Tuesday night.
The Victory earned the berth after finishing third on the table in last season's A-League, before bowing out of the post-season reckoning in the semi-finals.
Should they qualify, they will be the third Australian team in next year's competition, with Western Sydney and Central Coast already guaranteed a place in the group stages after finishing first and second respectively.
Coach Kevin Muscat, who captained the club in their first AFC Champions League appearance in 2008, is thrilled his side have been given the opportunity to play in Asia's elite club competition for the fourth time in their short history.
"This club has made no secret of its ambitions to play consistently in Asia and succeed in that competition," Muscat said.
"To be returning to the ACL after a few years' absence is a very exciting prospect, not only for myself as coach, but also for the players, who will be keen to show what they can do on Asia’s biggest stage."
CEO Ian Robson was equally pleased by the outcome of the AFC meeting, saying it gave the club yet another chance to make an impact in Asia both on and off the pitch.
"As part of our long term strategy, having an impact in Asia will be a big part of the future success of this club and we are taking this competition extremely seriously," Robson said.
"First things first, we have to get past this qualification period, but it’s certainly no secret that our expectation is for Kevin and the team to qualify for the group stages and from there, we really want to go deep into the competition.
"We have no doubt our fans will get behind us, as the AFC Champions League is now such a big event in this part of the world, with more than 30 million people across Asia tuning in to watch this year’s final alone. Those kind of numbers give us great motivation to succeed as we look to spread the Melbourne Victory brand throughout our region and beyond."
The Victory will be joined by Beijing Guoan, Muangthong United, Chonburi, Pune FC, Tampines Rovers, South China and Ha Noi T&T in the qualifying phase of the tournament, with the draw to take place on December 10 in Kuala Lumpar.
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