Struggling Victory to embrace ACL campaign

Anna Harrington
Melbourne Victory skipper Ola Toivonen says the Asian CL is a welcome distraction from the A-League

With their A-League season on life support, Melbourne Victory will wholeheartedly embrace their Asian Champions League campaign when it kicks off on Tuesday night.

Victory sit ninth in the A-League but with a bye this weekend can focus on Tuesday night's ACL opener against Chiangrai United at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, then the following week's trip to South Korea to face FC Seoul.

Injuries, poor form and a coach sacking have all contributed to Victory's difficult season but captain Ola Toivonen is hopeful a strong ACL start could reinvigorate his side.

"It's been a tough campaign in the A-League and this campaign is really coming (at a) really good (time) for us, that we can really focus on these two Champions League games and hopefully get the result and get the confidence in the group," Toivonen said.

Victory thumped Bali United, then secured their first win in Asia, beating Kashima Antlers in a play-off to qualify for the group stage so are optimistic of reaching the knockouts.

"I think (playing ACL is) good. If we go back to the Kashima game I think we were very happy to win that game as a club and I think Australian football overall should also be happy that we qualified for the Champions League, that the three teams are representing Australian football in the Champions League," Toivonen said.

"So that's perfect. I think it's very good for the youth players to see what's out there in the world and to get really good opposition in games."

Victory don't feature in the A-League again until they face the Jets on February 22, allowing them to hone in on the ACL.

"The focus is tomorrow and then we know that after that we have to go and win in Newcastle but now our focus is just on Champions League and just on Chiangrai," coach Carlos Salvachua said.

"It's a different competition now - it's a totally different competition.

"We didn't concede a goal against Kashima and against Bali. It's really important for us and we have to do the same tomorrow and then we go in and build up our team in this competition."