The A-League's two guaranteed group stage entrants for the 2014 Asian Champions League learned their opponents with the continental competition's draw taking place on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur. Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers will represent Australia in Asia's premier club competition while Melbourne Victory will still need to win in an upcoming playoff round to qualify.
Having reached the Round of 16 in the 2013 competition, Central Coast are back in the Champions League and have been drawn into Group F with two-time defending J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima, 2013 ACL runners up FC Seoul and an as yet undetermined playoff qualifier which is likely to be Chinese side Beijing Guoan. In this their fourth Champions League appearance, the Mariners will face quite a challenge to reach the Round of 16 for a second consecutive year.
The Wanderers, debutants in the A-League last year and thus in the Champions League in 2014, were placed in Group H with Korean second place finisher Ulsan Hyundai, Chinese fourth place side Guizhou Renhe and a Japanese qualifier which will likely be either Yokohama F. Marinos or Kawasaki Frontale. The Wanderers' final opponent will be determined at the conclusion of the Japanese Emperor's Cup on New Years Day.
Melbourne Victory, who have represented the A-League in Asia on three previous occasions, must defeat whichever qualifier reaches the third playoff round in order to join Group G. Should the Victory advance in mid-February, they will be grouped with Chinese champions, tournament holders and the greatest team in Asia, Guangzhou Evergrande, K-League third place finisher Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and whichever Japanese side does not drop into Western Sydney's Group H. Certainly it is no easy task for the Melbourne side, though that is to be expected for a qualifier as opposed to those who qualified for the group stage directly.
Qualifying playoffs begin on February 2 and the four entrants to the group stage will be determined by February 15. The group stage then begins across Asia on February 25/26, depending on the region.