Melbourne City draws 0-0 against Ventforet Kofu in AFC Champions League

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
21/09/2023
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Melbourne City draw 0-0 versus Ventforet Kofu

Melbourne City played Ventforet Kofu to a 0-0 draw at home in their first match of the 2023/24 AFC Champions League season.

News Insights

  • Melbourne City drew 0-0 in their opening AFC Champions League match against Ventforet Kofu.
  • Ventforet Kofu play in the second division of Japanese soccer.
  • Draw snaps a three-game winning streak for Melbourne City.
  • Melbourne City are one of the AFC Champions League Group F favourites.

Melbourne City started their AFC 2023/24 Champions League campaign on Wednesday with a disappointing 0-0 draw at AAMI Park to Japanese side Ventforet Kofu. 

Ventforet Kofu currently play in the J2 League, which is the second division of Japanese soccer. 

Form favoured Ventforet Kofu

Unlike the A-League, which has yet to start its 2023-24 season, the current J2 League is nearly over. Ventforet Kofu had played nearly 40 competitive matches this season ahead of their AFC Champions League matchup against Melbourne City, who had played just four competitive matches this season via the Australia Cup. 

The difference in preparation was plain to see on Wednesday night. City looked flat and unable to cope with Kofu and their counter-attacking style of play. 

Kofu appeared to be far more organised and fitter than Melbourne City, which led to several great chances, especially in the first half. If not for some  stellar saves from veteran goalkeeper Jamie Young. 

The woodwork also aided City in this one on multiple occasions. Young was left frozen by a stunning free kick effort from Kofu midfielder Kazuhiro Sato in the 38th minute. Thankfully for Young and City, Sato’s shot slammed into the crossbar. 

Kofu’s strong start to the match had many thinking that the second-tier Japanese side would be able to outlast Melbourne City and get one late, but it was not to be. The match became duller and duller as it went on with very few chances had by either club in the final 30 minutes. 

Disappointing debut for Group H favourites

Melbourne City made their AFC Champions League debut last season after qualifying as A-League Premiers and A-League Grand Final winners in the 2020-21 season. The City Blues were drawn into a group featuring South Korea’s Jeonnam Dragons, the Philippines United City FC, and BG Pathum United. This was by no means an easy group, apart from United City FC, but Melbourne City still disappointed. 

Draws to BG Pathum United and Jeonnam Dragons saw City knocked out of their inaugural AFC Champions Group. Draws again doomed Melbourne City in the East Region third-placed-team playoff. City drew three of their four matches in that competition and fell just one point short of advancing to the AFC Champions League knockout rounds. 

While it is too early to say anything definitively, this result against Ventforet Kofu is a sign that Melbourne City are on track to repeat their failures of last season’s AFC Champions League campaign. One more poor result, especially if it is against Thai giant Buriram United, could see City fall to the third place playoff again, or worse, be completely eliminated from the AFC Champions League in the group stage. 

Looking ahead at Melbourne City’s AFC Champions League schedule

Melbourne City’s next AFC Champions League match is against Zhejiang Professional FC at the Huzhou Olympic Sports Center in China. Chinese Super League clubs are not what they once were, so City should be able to get something away at Zhejiang. 

Unfortunately for City, they will have to wait to get their first Champions League point of the season. The Zhejiang match is on October 4. Before that, City have to play Sydney FC in the Australia Cup semi final. If they win that match, Melbourne City will play the winner of Melbourne Knights versus Brisbane Roar on Saturday, 7 October, after the Zhejiang game. 

In addition to Zhejiang Professional and Ventfort Kofu, Thai League 1 club Buriram United is also in Group H alongside Melbourne City. These will all be good tests on the schedule this season. 

According to most betting agencies and international betting sites, Buriram United are the favourite to win City’s group, Group H, so it will be important that City get a result at home when Buriram United comes to AAMI Park on 8 November.

If Melbourne City want to become the Australian and Asian footballing powerhouse that many expect them to be, they cannot be throwing away points to sides like Ventforet Kofu at home. 

All eyes will be on City for their upcoming AFC Champions League matches to see if they can atone for their poor performance in their opening match.