Melbourne Victory takes-on China Asian Cup team

A glamour fixture against a full-strength China national team is the highlight of a pre-season Asian tour announced today by Australian A-League 2007 Premier and Champion club Melbourne Victory. The match on 4 July will be China’s final hit out before the upcoming AFC Asian Cup and provides Victory with an ideal preparation ahead of its A-League defence. The Asian tour will also feature the Lord Mayor’s Cup on 7 July, with Melbourne set to face sister-city rivals Tianjin Teda, who currently sit in sixth position on the China Super League ladder. Victory already boasts an impressive record against Chinese opposition, after defeating CSL side Changchun Yatai twice in the North Queensland Challenge Trophy last year.

“This tour is highly significant in that it establishes Melbourne’s credentials within an Asian context, both for our club and the city. It’s also a great opportunity to provide visibility for our sponsors in the Asian continent,” Victory Chairman Geoff Lord said.

As well as providing high-quality match practice for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season, Victory coach Ernie Merrick also sees the tour as valuable experience ahead of the 2008 AFC Champions League. “We see preparation as one of the fundamental keys to success,” Merrick said. “If you look at the difference between our inaugural season in the Hyundai A-League, compared to our second season, preparation was such an important factor. Not only did we have our squad assembled in good time, but we were also able to organise high-quality matches in a competitive environment. We’re expecting that our matches in China against a leading Super League team, and more particularly against the China national team, will provide even better preparation than last season.”

Victory CEO Geoff Miles said the club was proud to be given the opportunity to compete on the international stage and believed the Asian tour would assist the club in raising its international profile. “It’s very pleasing to be part of the Lord Mayor’s Cup,” Miles said. “We are naturally thrilled to represent Melbourne and Victoria internationally with our participation in this game in Tianjin, supporting Melbourne’s sister-city relationship. We are also keen to explore potential business and promotional opportunities that may be cultivated as we embark on our participation in the AFC Champions League.”