Newcastle Jets face nightmare path to Asian Champions League

It's been a decade since the Hunter club have featured in Asia's premier club competition, but they face a significant battle to make the group stage

Newcastle Jets have been given a difficult path to the Asian Champions League group stage, with the club needing to win two playoffs - including a match on the road against a J-League club - to qualify.

Despite finishing the previous A-League regular season in second position on the standings, the Jets were bumped out of an automatic ACL qualifying berth after their 1-0 grand final loss to Melbourne Victory.

To make the group stage, Ernie Merrick's men will first need to defeat the winner of Singapore's Home United and an unnamed Indonesian side at McDonald Jones Stadium on February 12, before facing a do-or-die encounter against the third or fourth placed J-League team in Japan a week later.

With two rounds left in the Japanese top-flight, Kashima Antlers and Consodale Sapporo sit in third and fourth respectively, with it a mathematical possibility the Jets could also draw one of FC Tokyo, Shimizu S-Pulse, Cerezo Osaka and their former star Andrew Nabbout's Urawa Reds.

Article continues below

Australian teams have traditionally struggled in the ACL playoffs since being first added in 2012 with only Adelaide United (2012 versus Persipura Jayapura) and Melbourne Victory (2014 against Muangthong United) qualifying for the group stage via the backdoor route.

Brisbane Roar have suffered three eliminations at the playoff stage - including last season's embarassing defeat against Filipino side Ceres-Negros.

Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC have already qualified for the 2019 ACL group stage and will find out their draws on November 22.