The Thai giants' manager blasted the play-off system after they fell 2-1 to Australian side Melbourne Victory in the final hurdle of qualifying for Asia's premier club competitionSCG Muangthong United saw their hopes of making it to the 2014 AFC Champions League (ACL) proper dashed after a 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory in the final hurdle of the qualifying play-offs.
Leigh Broxham popped up with a deflected winner late on after James Troisi had cancelled out Mario Gjurovski's opener for the Thai giants to seal the A-League side's progression, condemning Muangthong to the second-tier AFC Cup.
Muangthong general manager Ronnarit Suewaja expressed his unhappiness at the new three-tier play-off system after the game.
"I don't agree with how they rank teams and competitions," he asserted.
"Football is the number five sport of Australia and the A-League has only 10 teams with no promotion-relegation, yet they've been placed over us, standing by at their ground to play only one match to get through."
"The ACL play-offs should be two-legged. That's the best way to find the best team for next round, which the current system fails in that aspect."
Muangthong, who finished second in the Thai Premier League (TPL) last season, had a bye for the first round and defeated Vietnamese side Hanoi T&T 2-0 in the second round to reach the final stage. Victory, on the other hand, entered into the last round automatically.
This is a change from last year's qualification system, which saw only three one-off ties being played, with each winner then qualifying for the group stages proper. The brackets for this year's three-tier play-off system was determined by AFC using the association ranking of each side, with higher-ranked ones like Victory entering at later stages.
The three other teams that only came in at this last stage, namely China's Beijing Guoan and Qatar's El Jaish and Lekhwiya, all triumphed in their respective ties. Muangthong and fellow TPL side Chonburi FC were the only teams to Southeast Asian representatives in the third round but both were eliminated, leaving Thai champions Buriram United as Asean's sole flag-bearers in the 33rd edition of the tournament.
Singapore's Tampines Rovers were handed a slot in the first round, but crashed out meekly after a 2-1 defeat in extra time to Hong Kong's South China.