Asian Champions League, Melbourne Victory vs Ulsan Hyundai: 1am. AEDT, LIVE —
Melbourne Victory claimed a shock 2-1 victory over FC Seoul in their final group game on Thursday, ensuring an Australian team would compete in the competition’s knockout stages for the first time since 2016.
But the Australians have an even tougher task early on Monday morning AEDT when they face another South Korean side – Ulsan Hyundai, which boasts ex-Socceroos fullback Jason Davidson in its squad.
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Victory scraped through the group stage in second place with two wins and a draw from their six matches, while Hyundai dominated Group F with five wins and a draw, including two victories over Perth Glory.
But in both of those games the A-League side acquitted themselves well and came close to an upset victory, with late goals breaking Perth hearts on both occasions.
Victory coach Grant Brebner watched both of those games and also sought advice from Glory coach Richard Garcia in an attempt to avenge Perth’s exit from the competition.
Hyundai are two-time K-League winners as well as the 2012 Asian Champions League winners. They also have history with Melbourne Victory in the competition, having beaten Melbourne 6-2 at home before a 3-3 draw in Australia during the group stages of the 2018 edition.
The tournament has been gruelling to say the least – this match will be Victory’s fifth in 15 days. That will force plenty of squad rotation, with Brebner recently saying that captain Leigh Broxham is one of many who will likely sit out.
“Broxham is not looking good and three or four others are feeling it. Even if I could play them all I probably won’t because five games in 15 days is just horrendous for everybody as the players have not had any conditioning before coming here.
“It would be really pushing boundaries to ask then to last another 90 minutes against fantastic teams.”
This season is Victory’s eighth Champions League campaign, but the A-League side has only once before reached the knockout stages – a 2016 two-leg loss to another South Korean side, Jeonbuk Hyundai.
Victory tonight would be not just the club’s greatest ever continental success, but would be particularly special given the new-look squad which includes a significant proportion of youngsters – and which didn’t have a full pre-season before the tournament resumed in recent weeks.
HOW TO WATCH
Watch live on Fox Sports and Kayo from 12.55am AEDT (Monday morning).
MATCH CENTRE: Line-ups and live stats
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