Can this Sydney FC team succeed in the Asian Champions League?

Having conquered the A-League, the Sky Blues can now turn their attention to Asia.

By Joshua Thomas

With just two competitive defeats to their name in nine months, Sydney FC are well and truly soaring.

But as a competition that’s caused considerable anguish for A-League sides in recent years, will the Asian Champions League bring the Sky Blues crashing back to earth?

Considering all three A-league representatives this year failed to make it past the group stage and Sydney FC have only managed such a feat once in three attempts, the signs aren’t entirely encouraging.

In fact, while their derby rivals Western Sydney Wanderers took out the ACL crown in 2014, the Sky Blues have won just six games across 20 appearances in the competition.

However, their last foray into Asia in 2016 was positive with three consecutive group stage wins earning them their first spot in the Round of 16. Though they’d fail to progress any further after losing to Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng Taishan on away goals, Sydney FC seemed to have found their feet in a competition that continues to challenge many.

Considering A-League sides like Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory from this season have qualified for the next ACL competition nine months before it kicks off inevitably means the chances of them performing at their peak are slim. Add poor scheduling and cashed up Chinese sides to that fact and you begin to see why the A-League is tripping up in Asia.

Though the odds may be against them, Sydney FC do have quite a bit in their favour and if you were a sports betting enthusiast, I’d throw a few bucks their way.

First and foremost, they have a quality side that knows how to win. They’ve lost just two games in nine months and found a way to win a grand final epic against Melbourne Victory when multiple times it seemed defeat was imminent. The side itself looks set to remain much the same with Johnny Warren medalist Milos Ninkovic and top scorer Bobo both signing on for another season.

And keeping it all together is a coach in Graham Arnold who has developed a real habit of winning and will undoubtedly be desperate to impress on the continental stage with the Socceroos coaching job likely up for grabs in 2019.

A fired up fan base could and really should also play a helping hand in Sydney FC’s ACL bid too with likely bigger numbers next season just what they need to keep their motivation going.

After taking out the A-League in such convincing fashion, the Sky Blues might just be the side to remind Asia that we aren’t all walkovers.

Feature image credit: Sydney FC

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