Melbourne Victory have another chance to establish themselves as a club to be contended with in our most important football region when they meet Muangthong United at Geelong’s Kardinia Park on Saturday. After unsuccessful campaigns in 2008 and 2011, in which Victory were bundled out in the group stages, it appears the club has changed its tune somewhat.
While Victory have arguably not quite approached the Asian Champions League as best as they could have in the past, Archie Thompson’s comments show that it is changing.
“Its huge for the club, we obviously want to do well in Asia because the last two campaigns haven’t been very good for us. We know it’s going to be a good team coming over from Thailand and it can only boost our club in Asia.”
“I think Adelaide are the only team to have done really well in this competition, we know how big Asian football is now, especially at club level and that’s what we want to do as a country, as a league, to do well in the Asian Cup.”
Thompson also revealed why the club hasn’t done itself justice in the prime Asian competition and had confidence in fellow A-League clubs, Western Sydney and Central Coast.
“It’s sort of new for us. Now we’ve been through it twice, we know there’s quite a bit of travelling involved. We know all that now the leagues and clubs have improved. I think this year is going to be an exciting year for Australian clubs in the League”
“I think what the perception of us going in to Asia was a few years ago, is that we lose money. That’s what the thinking was ‘we’re going in to Asia, we’re not making any money, whatever’. Now, we’re really looking forward to getting in to Asia and doing really well. The reward is there, the club builds and there’s prize money to be had. So we’re excited about this weekend and just hope supporters come out.”
Thompson also paid tribute to the growing quality of Asian football.
“Technically, Asian countries are very good, world class in fact. I think what they have been lacking is a bit of structure and having that quality of coach coming in. But now you see a lot of European coaches are getting in and adding structure. What we’ve been seeing over the last few years with Asian football, it’s improving. So we can’t go in thinking we’re going to smash these teams when that’s not the case.
Perhaps the only living A-League legend also touched on the weekend’s opponents, headlined by Englishman Jay Bothroyd.
“We have watched a bit of the footage and they got that big fella from England, Bothroyd. He’s had an illustrious career in the UK, and what we’ve seen of him this morning, he’s a danger. But they’ve got other players that can be threats all over the pitch. So we gotta play the best we can.”