Preview: Melbourne Victory v Okayama Yunogo Belle

Melbourne Victory head into opening game at the International Women’s Club Championship well placed to make an impact among some of the great clubs of women’s football.

International Women’s Club Championship

Okayama Yunogo Belle v Melbourne Victory

Sunday 30 November 2014

Mimasaka Football Field, Mimasaka

Local kick-off: 4.10pm AEDT

The Victory tackle Japan’s Okayama Yunogo Belle on Sunday and, in a similar format to next month’s FIFA Club World Cup, have the opportunity to progress to a semi-final against Arsenal, and then potentially the final in the six-team event for the right to be crowned unofficial world champs.

The Westfield W-League holders head to Japan with confidence having recently rediscovered their form after a mid-season slump.

Conversely their opponents are without a win for four matches as the Nadeshiko League’s Opening Stage champions secured just three wins over ten matches off the recently-completed Championship Series.

Yunogo were surprise qualifiers to the tournament with their victory breaking a long domination of the domestic stage by INAC Kobe Leonessa and NTV Beleza.

They boast few headlines names but have two genuine stars in Japan captain and reigning Asian player of the year Aya Miyama, and the Nadeshiko’s 2012 Olympic Games silver medal goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto.

Aussie teams have a solid record in this match over the two previous years in which the competition has been held. Canberra United suffered an injury-time 4-3 defeat against NTV Beleza, while Sydney FC defeated the same opponent last year with a 1-0 scoreline.

Melbourne take the field in Japan with a full strength squad and having collected three impressive wins to end their Westfield W-League campaign and collect a semi-final berth.

Australia and Japan enjoy an intense, albeit friendly, rivalry in both men’s and women’s football. Almost every match-up between the nation’s representatives are decided by fine-margins and Sunday’s match is likely to be no different.