The Newcastle Jets path to the Asian Champions League has become clearer following the official draw for the AFC Champions League 2019 Group Stage at AFC House, Kuala Lumpar this evening.
Football Operations Manager, Joel Griffiths, represented the Jets at the official ceremony that featured dignitaries from across club football in Asia.
The Jets will find themselves in Group E along with Korea Republic 3rd Club, Johor Darul Ta’zim and Playoff Spot 2 (China/Thailand/Vietnam) should they qualify for the Group Stage.
The Club’s focus will now turn to the two-stage qualification process, beginning with a game against opposition to be confirmed – either Singapore’s Home United or an unnamed Indonesian side – at McDonald Jones Stadium in February.
Should Ernie Merrick’s side successfully navigate that first fixture, they’ll travel to Japan for a final sudden death play off – with the opponent still to be confirmed – before joining Group E.
Speaking from AFC House, Griffiths said that it was an exciting prospect to be involved in Asia’s premier club competition.
“Obviously we need to get through the qualification stage, but Group E is a great draw for us – just to be involved in the Champions League again is fantastic for the Club,” said Griffiths.
“If successful [in qualification] we’ll be taking on teams from Korea and Malaysia as well as a qualifier from China, Thailand or Vietnam.
“Joining the Group Stage would be massive for the Club and the City of Newcastle, while offering the playing group an amazing experience to test themselves against the best Asia has to offer.
“There’s quality teams right across the competition and to have the Jets alongside some of the biggest teams in Asia is credit to Martin Lee for his continued support, the players for their hard work and everyone involved in the Club.”
The Jets last featured in the AFC Champions League in 2009, where they qualified for the Round of 16.
Further updates on the Club’s qualification fixture in February will be provided once they are known.