Sydney FC, Victory get tough draws in AFC Champions League

Sydney FC, Victory get tough draws in AFC Champions League
From ESPN - December 6, 2017

MELBOURNE -- Sydney FC could see the return of Socceroos defender Matt Jurman in the AFC Champions League but for fellow A-League participants Melbourne Victory it's about who they have avoided in the draw for next year's competition.

Victory were kept apart from Korean nemesis Jeonbuk Motors in Wednesday night's draw in Kuala Lumpur but face a tough test to reach the knockout stage all the same.

Kevin Muscat's side were pitted against J-League winners Kawasaki Frontale and Korean powerhouse Ulsan Hyundai -- as well as a playoff winner likely to be China's Shanghai SIPG.

Jeonbuk knocked out Victory on their past two appearances in the competition, in 2014 and 2016, with Muscat in two minds about missing them in 2018.

"It's nice to miss Jeonbuk although half of me was hoping we'd get them again because we owe them one," he said.

"You are always going to face good teams ... but it's a tough group, make no mistake."

Helping Victory and the Sky Blues is the introduction of split A-League rounds, which will help with match congestion.

"It's not perfect, but if we compare it to what has been dealt up in the past it's a significant improvement," Muscat said.

"The FFA have given it a lot of thought.

"Our last opportunity in the competition we progressed for the first time.

"We got beaten 3-2 over two leags by Jeonbuk, the eventual champions, and ... we want to progress again."

Jurman's return to Allianz Stadium depends on his Korean club Suwon Bluewings winning a playoff to join Sydney FC in Group H. The romantic meeting would take place, fittingly, on Feb. 14.


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