ACL injury news: Victory’s opposition lose duo

Melbourne Victory will have a big opportunity to maintain their unbeaten start to the AFC Champions League (ACL) on Tuesday with Suwon Bluewings missing two key players due to injury.

Attacking midfielder Kwon Chang-hoon and striker Kim Gun-hee will miss the ACL clash at AAMI Park, with the former picking up an injury in Suwon’s 2-0 loss away to Seongnam as the K. League opened on Saturday.

ACL preview: Victory v Suwon Bluewings

The young duo’s absence is set to leave coach Seo Jung-won with limited resources up front – a concern for the Bluewings, who have only managed one goal in their opening three competitive games of 2016.

Kwon was critical to Suwon’s 2015 campaign, where they finished second in the K. League, scoring 10 goals, while Kim – a pre-season recruit from Korea University – started up front in the Bluewings’ first two ACL matches.

Kwon Chang Hoon.

“Even last year [when Suwon were the second most prolific K. League club] we had a problem with our central striker, he couldn’t score many goals, so most of our goals are scored by our attacking midfielders,” Seo said on Monday.

“This season we have the same problem, we couldn’t get a good striker this season. So tactically we have a task to improve the scoring ability of our midfielders.”

Suwon’s leading scorer last season was Brazilian attacking midfielder Santos, who scored 12 goals in 29 matches, and he may start behind compatriot Hygor in Melbourne, although the latter has yet to make his debut for the South Korean club.

The Bluewings have started in Group G with a draw at home against Gamba Osaka and a loss away to Shanghai SIPG.

Those results have left Seo’s team three points adrift of Victory, who won their opening home match against Shanghai and then drew with Gamba in Japan.

While Seo insisted the ACL is “very important” to Suwon, the former South Korea international forward will rely on a bunch of youngsters against the reigning A-League champions.

Suwon Bluewings pose for a team photo prior to their ACL clash with Gamba Osaka.

“We have flown more than 18 hours to come here, so it will surely affect the physical preparation for the game,” he said.

“But also, we bring many fresh players, young players, so we believe they can overcome the situation.”

Victory will enter the match on the back of their 5-0 loss at the hands of Brisbane Roar on Saturday night and coach Kevin Muscat called on his team to provide “a lot more effort” to ensure they can notch consecutive home wins in the ACL.

The Big V have failed to advance beyond the group stage in the ACL on four previous attempts but a win over the Bluewings would put Victory well on the way to the Round of 16 with three matches remaining.