Melbourne Victory will return to Champions League football for the first time since 2011, following an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee meeting overnight, in which the number of participating teams for the 2014 event was confirmed.
Australia has secured two direct entry spots, plus one additional qualifying spot.
Following its third place finish in last year’s Hyundai A-League, Melbourne Victory has now earned the right to play in the qualification stage in early 2014 in order to progress to the competition’s group stages.
Head Coach Kevin Muscat said he was thrilled with the news.
“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.”
Melbourne Victory CEO Ian Robson said the AFC Champions League was a competition the club had planned for and is excited to be participating in.
“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,” Mr 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 location, date and opponents for the qualifying games will be confirmed following the AFC Champions League draw on December 10 in Kuala Lumpur.