Three A-League clubs will get the chance to compete in the 2014 Asian Champions League after the AFC Executive Committee today confirmed slot allocation for the region's participants. Unlike last year, when the A-League was granted two spots, one of which was a qualifying position, Australia's top flight will have two automatic group stage entrants and one club into the qualifying rounds. In 2013, Brisbane Roar were eliminated before reaching the group stage, leaving only Central Coast Mariners as entrants in the tournament proper.
The qualifying rounds begin early in the new year with eight clubs in each of the East and West regions. Melbourne Victory, who finished third in last season's A-League, will drop into the East's competition at this stage, competing against Beijing Guoan or Guizhou Renhe (China), Muangthong United and Chonburi (Thailand), Pune (Indai), Tampines Rovers (Singapore), South China (Hong Kong) and Ha Noi T&T (Vietnam). Qualifying for the group stage will conclude after three rounds on February 14, 2014. The Victory will learn if they will need to progress through two qualifying rounds or just one when the ACL draw takes place on December 10. Regardless, the Melbourne side are slated to host its qualifying game(s).
Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners, the A-League's top two finishers last season, will go directly into the group stage, which begins February 25/26, 2014. The Wanderers will obviously be debutants while the Mariners will make their fourth appearance in the competition. Central Coast reached the Round of 16 in this year's tournament before bowing out to eventual champions Guangzhou Evergrande.