City shrug off ACL exit, focus on ALM

·2-min read

With the A-League men premiership in sight, Melbourne City will attempt to shake off their brutal Asian Champions League exit when they take on Perth Glory.

City went unbeaten in the group stage in their inaugural ACL campaign in Thailand and claimed 12 points to finish runners up in Group G on goal difference, only just missing out on qualifying for the knockout stage.

To ensure City's qualification from second, Vissel Kobe had to beat Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC in Group J - and an 88th minute goal that put the Japanese side 2-1 up looked to be enough.

But minutes later former Melbourne Victory midfielder Raul Baena scored Kitchee's equaliser that sent City crashing out.

"It was fantastic. We represented our club really well, the players were fantastic," coach Patrick Kisnorbo said.

"I couldn't be much prouder of the players.

"We played the way we wanted to play in tough conditions and we gave everything and end of the day we had to wait on a result which didn't happen.

"That's it, you can't change that. But it was a great learning curve for us as staff, as players and as a club. All of us should be really proud of what we did over there.

"This is new for me as well. I think in Australia we're a bit blinded on how good Asian countries are.

"We think of Asia in other things, but not football, but there's a lot of good teams over there in our group that we played and I'm sure in other groups."

City flew directly to Perth but Kisnorbo shrugged off the heavy travel and playing schedule.

Kisnorbo was confident he would have a fit and firing squad, including Mat Leckie, who was managed through much of the ACL.

The reigning ALM champions are on the brink of sealing a second consecutive premiers plate with two games left in the season.

A win over wooden spooners Perth, who are playing their final game of the season, would all but seal silverware.

City are on 46 points, a point ahead of Victory with a game in hand and two points ahead of Western United, who also have two games left.

"All season we've taken it day by day, and it's the same here now," Kisnorbo said.

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