Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat says it is now easier for A-League clubs to compete in the AFC Asian Champions League (ACL) compared to his playing days.
Muscat was involved in three ACL campaigns as a player and recalled the difficulties regarding the congestion and clashes with the A-League fixtures.
It was announced earlier in the year that the A-League would have two split rounds to better accommodate teams competing in the tournament.
Victory’s clash with Brisbane Roar in Round 20 and the Melbourne Derby in Round 22 are part of the split rounds.
Muscat said he was pleased with drawing Kawasaki Frontale and Ulsan Hyundai in their group.
“Back then (when I played), the competition was hard enough as it was and there were so many other obstacles that made it an unfair fight,” Muscat said on Thursday.
“The FFA have given it a lot of thought in meetings we’ve had in the past and I’m glad they’ve got to the point now where it’s a lot better than it has been in the past.
“Now we’ve got to the point where the football has improved dramatically and we’re getting a lot more support with the logistics.
“It’s not perfect, but if we compare it to what has been dealt up in the past, it’s a significant improvement.
“If we look at other competitions, some of them get the weekend off and they cancel games if it’s too tight to give them preparation.
“We’ve got a couple of those opportunities where we don’t have games on the weekend, so it’s beneficial and evens things up a little bit.”
It will be Victory’s sixth appearance in the competition after they broke their own record in their last campaign in 2016, where they reached the Round of 16 for the first time.
The Victory boss said he hoped there would be more interest in the ACL, which has struggled to attract crowds in the past.
“I don’t think people discriminate on the actual competition, I think midweek football has been a tough sell and that’s even when the A-League games were on,” he said.
“This is our sixth attempt and we feel we’ve got to the point now where we really want to give it a good crack.
“Hopefully there is enough media and people educated on the competition that we’ll be supported well this time round.”
Victory may well need to get the ball rolling in the A-League before the ACL as they sit sixth on the table with no wins at home this season.
They lock horns with Adelaide United on Friday night at Etihad Stadium and welcome back Mark Milligan from suspension.
Victory came back from two goals down to beat Wellington Phoenix 3-2 away last week.
“Adelaide had some issues as well keeping people fit and having the same XI out,” Muscat said.
“They had a good run in the cup, from what we saw at the start of the season, they were fairly direct in their approach and had some good structure around.
“In recent weeks they’ve tried to keep the ball and play out a bit more and be a bit more patient. They’ve certainly got some threats and good structure when they get the ball into your front third.”