Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets closer to learning ACL fates
Melbourne Victory's opening AFC Champions League opponents will be first-timers Daegu FC after the South Koreans claimed their first trophy this week -- the FA Cup.
Daegu FC defeated Ulsan Hyundai 5-1 on aggregate to claim the final direct qualification place on offer to next year's continental championships.
It spares Kevin Muscat's side the prospect of facing Ulsan, who knocked them out of this year's tournament with a humiliating 6-2 defeat in South Korea.
Both Victory and Sydney FC, Australia's direct qualifiers, now know two of their group stage opponents and will discover their third in February.
For the Victory, that could bring a reunion with all-time A-League record scorer Besart Berisha, who left AAMI Park for J.League side Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Sydney FC will face Ulsan should the 2012 ACL winners come through their qualifier.
Newcastle Jets also now know their qualification route after the conclusion of the Asian club seasons, as they seek a return to the competition for the first time in a decade.
They must beat Home United (Singapore) or Persija Jakarta (Indonesia) at home on Feb. 12.
Their reward will be an intimidating trip to play reigning champions Kashima Antlers (Japan) a week later.
AFC Champions League draw for A-League sides
Melbourne Victory -- Group F
Guangzhou Evergrande (China), Daegu FC (South Korea) and a play-off winner -- likely to be Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan).
Sydney FC -- Group H
Kawasaki Frontale (Japan), Shanghai SIPG (China) and a play-off winner -- likely to be Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea).
Must beat Home United (Singapore) or Persija Jakarta (Indonesia) at home on Feb. 12, then Kashima Antlers (Japan) away on Feb. 19. Would then be in Group E with Johor Darul Ta'zim (Malaysia), Gyeongnam FC (South Korea) and another play-off winner -- likely to be Shandong Luneng (China).