Melbourne Victory Football Operations Manager Paul Trimboli says he is excited by the prospect of a matchup with former club hero Besart Berisha in wake of the 2019 Asian Champions League group stage draw.
Victory, who were drawn in Group F, could face off against Berisha’s new team, J1’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Sitting second on the J-League table, but not absolutely safe there, Victory could square off against them via play-off three, who will help fill out the group alongside South Korea’s cup winners and Guangzhou Evergrande.
“The play-off teams can come from four different places, you’d expect the Japanese team to get through,” Trimboli said from the draw in Malaysia in an interview featured on Victory’s official Facebook page.
“At this stage, it could be either Kashima (Antlers) or Sanfrecce (Hiroshima).
“If it is Sanfrecce, it offers up the excitement of a potential game against Besart Berisha.
“(There’s) lots to wait and see, and plenty of logistics to work through.”
The prospect of facing a Japanese team also affords Victory star Keisuke Honda the chance to play against Japanese club opposition for the first time in his illustrious career.
Meanwhile, Sydney FC were handed a tough group, pitted against reigning J-League champions Kawasaki Frontale and Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG.
The winner of play-off one, to come from either South Korea, Malaysia or Hong Kong, will complete Group H.
Newcastle Jets must qualify to reach Group E, but if they get there they will play Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’zim, a third Korean club and the winner of play-off two, to be from either China, Thailand or Vietnam.
The Jets have been pitted in play-off four, where they could meet teams from Japan, Indonesia or Singapore.