Victory will swap Xmas presence for ACL

Anna Harrington
·2-min read

Melbourne Victory coach Grant Brebner says his players and staff are prepared for the sacrifice of spending Christmas in quarantine if it means they have made their mark on the Asian Champions League.

Victory depart for the Doha hub next Thursday and have four group-stage games left to play - two against Beijing Guoan and one each against FC Seoul and Chiangrai United.

Brebner's team have three points under their belt after two games and could still be in the mix to get out of group E and into the round of 16.

If Victory reach the quarter-finals or further, their subsequent hotel quarantine period back in Australia is likely to extend through Christmas - but after a dismal 2019-20 A-League season, Brebner said the traditional powerhouse was more focused on getting back to winning ways.

"It's going to be tough but I have spoken to the players about it - it's not something we're shirking away from," Brebner said.

"I want to win football games and so do the players. We've had enough last year of not winning enough games.

"We're going to the competition. We want to win games, and if it means that we're in a hotel over Christmas and New Year, it means we're doing really well.

"That's the price we'll pay, but I think it's worth it if we do well in this competition."

Brebner said an independent assessment had given the players and staff the assurances they needed to feel comfortable about travelling to Qatar, and Victory were now "full steam ahead".

Socceroos winger Robbie Kruse will not travel as he continues his rehabilitation from the knee surgery that prematurely ended his A-League season but otherwise Victory have close to a full squad to choose from.

Between their squad upheaval and Melbourne's COVID-19 restrictions, Victory have barely kicked a ball in anger ahead of their ACL campaign - and Brebner flagged heavy rotation throughout the condensed schedule.

"It's absolutely going to be tough," he said.

"But it will be a fantastic opportunity to play a pre-season in a competition that means something, and get as much as we can out of it with a view to coming back here and starting our A-League campaign."

Meanwhile, Sydney FC's ACL hopes received a boost on Friday with the news that striker Marko Arnautovic is likely to miss his club side Shanghai SIPG's group-stage game against the Sky Blues on November 19 after linking up with Austria for international duty.

The former West Ham United forward flew to Europe on Thursday ahead of games against Northern Ireland and Norway next week.