Victory to tour China

Melbourne Victory will prepare for the new Hyundai A-League season and next year's Asian Champions League with a two-match tour of China in June.

Melbourne Victory will prepare for the new Hyundai A-League season and next year's Asian Champions League with a two-match tour of China in June.

The Victory, who will be grouped against one of four Chinese sides in next year's ACL campaign, will play Guangzhou Pharaceutical at YueXiuShan Stadium and Tianjin Teda at TEDA Football Stadium on June 5 and June 7 respectively.

Tianjin and Guangzhou have both made strong starts to the season, both recording three wins and two losses to sit in third and fifth place respectively on the CSL ladder, separated only by goal difference.

Tianjin has qualified for next year's ACL and could end up in the same group as Melbourne, so these matches will provide the Victory players with valuable experience.

"Preparation is one of the fundamental keys to success and these two matches in China will provide a fantastic opportunity for the team to compete against high quality opposition ahead of the 2009/10 season," Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick said.

"We also have Asia's biggest club competition to look forward to and this experience will be invaluable in ensuring our players are ready for the challenges that lay ahead, both domestically and abroad."

The A-League champions are no stranger to Chinese opposition, having played Tianjin and the China national team two years ago.

Melbourne CEO Geoff Miles hopes the team can defend the Lord Mayor's Cup, which was established as part of Melbourne and Tianjin's sister city relationship.

"After a hugely successful 2008/09 campaign, we're really pleased to have the opportunity to return to Asia and represent Melbourne on the international stage again," Miles said.

"Melbourne and Tianjin have shared a sister city relationship for 30 years and we look forward to defending the Lord Mayor's Cup in China."

Melbourne begins its A-League defence with a match against Central Coast at Etihad Stadium on August 6.