Brisbane Roar's path into Asia has become a little clearer following today's AFC Champions League draw held in Kuala Lumpur.
Drawn into Group F, Brisbane will face Joel Griffiths' Chinese Super League runners-up Beijing Guoan, Korean play-off runners-up Ulsan Hyundai and the winner of the Japanese Emperor's Cup, the final to be played on January 1.
Brisbane Roar Head Coach Ange Postecoglou said he was excited to have drawn clubs from three of the most competitive leagues in the Asian Football Confederation.
“It’s exciting , that’s the main thing," Postecoglou said.
“We’re in it, we’re in an important international competition and that’s what we want as a club.
“You want to play against the big clubs and big countries to really test yourself.
“We’ve got a team from Japan, China and Korea which are all strong football countries with strong club football sides.
“The really key thing for us now is to make sure we’re in good form when the tournament comes around so we need to concentrate on the Hyundai A-League for the next couple of months."
The draw against Beijing Guoan throws up an interesting match-up in the group stage, pitting Brisbane against its former Newcastle Jets nemesis Joel Griffiths who now plies his trade in the Chinese capital.
Beijing are a well-back club and Postecoglou said he expected them to strengthen their squad ahead of the tournament in March.
"From what I understand they got a lot of money and they’re looking to spend a lot of money," he said.
"The good thing about it is that we’ll be playing in Beijing which is the capital city and will make things a lot easier in terms of logistical planning and travel."
Ulsan finished the 2011 K-League season in sixth place, but an amazing run during the play-offs too the club all the way to the grand final, where they lost 4-2 over two legs to top team Joenbuk Hyundai Motors.
Again, Postecoglou said he expected the team from Korea's south-east to strengthen their squad in an effort to progress through the competition.
"They did well to get to the final against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, so despite finishing sixth they’ve performed well at the end of the season," he said.
“It’ll be an interesting one for us.
“They might strengthen now. If they finished sixth and want to have a real tilt at the AFC Champions League, they may well bring in more players.
“It’s the off-season there now, so we’ll do our homework and see what they do over the next few months."
The only question mark in the group will be the final participant from Japan, which will be decided by the Emperor's Cup competition.
The cup final will not be held until January 1, meaning Postecoglou and his staff will need to carefully monitor the progress of the tournament to eliminate possible contenders.
“That’s going to make things a little difficult from a research point of view," he said.
"We know who it’s not going to be, it’s not going to be one of the top three teams in Japan.
“From that point of view we’ll be meeting a club that didn’t do so well during the season, but again we’ll do our homework once that spot has been decided. "
The match schedule for the AFC Champions League will be released at a later date, however Brisbane's first match will take place on match day one on either March 6 or 7.
Should Brisbane qualify for the round of 16, that match will be played on May 30. To qualify for a home round of 16 match Brisbane will need to top the group, with second place handing them an away encounter.
In the earlier preliminary draw it was confirmed Adelaide United would join Brisbane and the Central Coast Mariners in the main draw - by-passing the need to play a play-off match - to give Australia three representatives in the AFC Champions League for the first time.
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