Last week we seen victories for Ceres-Negros and Bali United as both teams progressed to the next preliminary round and one more step closer to the jackpot of the Group Stages. They are joined this week by teams from Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Kedah (MYS) vs Tai Poh (HKG)
This will be Kedah’s first appearance in the Asian Champions League although they did feature once in the old Asian Club Championship, losing to 10-4 on aggregate to Seongnam FC who themselves would finish 4th after losing to Qatari’s Al-Arabi in the semi-finals. Kedah qualified for the preliminaries as Malaysian FA Cup winners, their second FA Cup in 3 years. They will host Hong Kong’s Tai Poh who warmed up for the match by losing 3-1 at home to Southern. This will also be Tai Poh’s first outing in the Asian Champions League and that does mean that we will have a new name coming to Seoul World Cup Stadium on January 28th as the prize for the winners is a play-off match against FC Seoul.
Buriram United (THA) vs Ho Chi Min City (VNM)
Next up we have Thai League 1 runners-up Buriram host Ho Chi Min City. Buriram need no introduction and have played in the ACL Group Stages 7 times, reaching the Quarter-finals back in 2013 when they lost to the Iranians of Esteghlal. That was of course before the re-structuring of the tournament that sees teams from the Eastern and Western regions kept apart until the final. They finished last year’s Group Stages in 4th place, but they were in the same group as Jeonbuk Motors and eventual finalists Urawa Red Diamonds. This will be Ho Chi Min City’s first foray in the Asian Champions League in quite some time and they may well have chosen to face a less illustrious opponent in their first game back. They have recently signed ex-Celtic striker Amido Balde, but will he be enough to lead them to victory? The winner of the clash will be rewarded with an away trip to Chinese Super Cup winners Shanghai SIPG, if it is indeed Buriram then we could be in for an absolute cracker in the playoffs.
Port FC (THA) vs Ceres-Negros (PHL)
Ceres-Negros have been rewarded for their 3-2 victory over Shan United with a trip to Thailand to face Thai FA Cup winners Port FC. Despite being one of Thailand’s most successful clubs, Port have had a pretty torrid time since around 2010 with last year’s FA Cup win hopefully seeing them turn things around. They have Korean midfielder Go Seul-ki in their squad who most recently had a stint on loan with Incheon United in 2018. This will mark their first appearance in the Asian Champions League and should they defeat Ceres they will head to Japan to face FC Tokyo.
Melbourne Victory (AUS) v Bali United (IDN)
Quick on the heels of their 5-3 extra time victory over Tampines Rovers, Bali United will board another plane this time to Australia to face Melbourne Victory. Melbourne are of course no strangers to the ACL and have qualified eight times, making the last 16 once back in 2016 when they finished 2nd in Suwon Bluewings group knocking them out in the process. Melbourne will hope to do much better than last year’s disastrous campaign when they finished bottom of their group with a solitary point. The last time Bali United made it this far was in 2018 when they took Chiangrai United to extra time, Melbourne will surely be a sterner test than that you would imagine. Whoever comes out on top will then travel to play Kashima Antlers for a place in the Groups.
The full road to the Group Stages is below……