Melbourne Victory have learned its opponent for the Asian Champions League qualifying playoff. On February 15, the Victory will host Thai Premier League side Muangthong United at Kardinia Park in Geelong after the Twin Qilins defeated Hà Nội T&T 2-0 on Saturday. Mario Gjurovski and Jay Bothroyd scored for Thailand's 2013 runners up to reach the final qualifier next weekend.
The winner of the Victory-Muangthong game will drop directly into the Asian Champions League's treacherous Group G. Already placed in the competition's toughest group are ACL holders Guangzhou Evergrande of the Chinese Super League, Yokohama F. Marinos of the J-League and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of the K-League. Indeed, the opener for whichever club survives the game in Geelong will be away to Evergrande at the Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou on Wednesday February 26. Muangthong finished with just a single point in its group stage appearance in 2013.
With a week off from the A-League (the Victory's Valentine's Day game was rescheduled and played on January 14), Melbourne will have no reason not to field the best possible team. Even with the Murderers' Row that awaits in the competition proper, qualifying would be significant for the Victory and the A-League in general. Winning 3-1 away to Central Coast Mariners on Saturday will also give Melbourne confidence after a terrible January.