Monday, 17 December 2007

Tough ACL draw

The draw for the Asian Champions League has just taken place at AFC headquarters. Melbourne Victory has been drawn in Group G alongside Chonburi FC of Thailand, Gamba Osaka of Japan and Chunnam Dragons of South Korea. This group is extremely tough and it will be a challenge for the team to get out of the group stages, remembering that only the top team qualifies for the next plus our current form isn't providing fans with much hope.

I am looking forward to the Champions League matches as it will be a great opportunity for football fans to witness a different style of football than they normally see week in week out. I am hoping both the Japanese and Korean teams have a healthy travelling contingent as they are reknown for the great support. Lets see how they match the support of the Melbourne fans. The guys at MVFCblog have provided a brief background to the teams and how they qualified for the tournament, and I will try to give you a brief history of these teams.

Chonburi FC
Chonburi FC is from the Chonburi Province in the eastern part of Thailand and plays its home games at the Chonburi Municipality Stadium, which has a maximum capacity of 5,000. They are nicknamed the Chonburi Sharks. The club was promoted to the Thai Premier League in the 2006 after it had won the Thai Provincial League in which it had participated since 2002. The team finished ninth in their first season in the Premier League. Chonburi FC qualified for the tournament by winning the Thai Premier League comfortably by nine points from its nearest rival, Krungthai FC, in only its second season in the top flight.

Gamba Osaka
The origins of this team hark all the way back to 1980, and began life as Matsushita Industrial Electical Company Football Club. Gamba was one of the original members of the J-League in 1992 and took out its first J-League title in 2005. The team has qualified for the tournament by winning the 2007 J-League Cup and will also participate in the inaugaral Pan-Pacific Championships to be held in late February against American and Australian opposition. This will obviously gives us some indication of where we stand in terms of standard. They finished the recently completed J-League season in third place behind eventual champions, Kashima Antlers and Urawa Red Diamonds. The team is based out of the 1970 Osaka Expo Stadium which has as a capacity of 21,000 people.

Chunnam Dragons
Chunnam Dragons are based in the South Korean city of Gwangyang, and joined the K-League for the 1995 season. They have never won the K-League title with their best performance being runner-up in 1997. They have qualified for the tournament by winning the Korean FA Cup, a title which they have won previously in 1997 and 2006. They play their home games at the Gwang-Yang Stadium which has a capacity of approximately 14,000. They finished the recently completed K-League campaign in tenth position.


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