This was meant to be our time. After so failed campaigns this was meant to be the campaign Australian sides proved they were worthy in the AFC Champions League.

Instead, the same old story remains. But this time the repercussions could be more severe than ever.

Australia is at risk of losing an automatic entry into the competition should its teams not acquire enough ranking points.

This season’s AFC Champions League was perhaps the most important for Australia, yet it appears for the A-League’s two representatives it could already be over.

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If the A-League ever needed two teams to best represent it, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC would be high on the list.

Both clubs built on success and stability yet continue to fall at the first hurdle in the continental competition.

It is time to draw a line in the sand when it comes to Asia, before any action is taken against Australian teams for their poor performances.

Heading into this season’s tournament, both Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC were confident they would take a major step in their respective histories.

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One could argue Victory’s recruitment revolved around AFC Champions League success while despite losing a host of stars, Sydney were able to find capable replacements – including Reza Ghoochannejhad

Both sides were given challenging yet exciting groups. Aside from Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande, most Victory fans were confident they would progress out of the group.

Sydney FC were meanwhile tasked with the group of death – but given Sydney’s recent domestic record over the past two seasons, anything seemed possible.

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Melbourne Victory’s form has puzzled many. For a club built around success its form in Asia continues to raise more questions, especially around how seriously the club takes it.

Their campaign had signs of failing before it even started after a home loss to Daegu – who finished seventh in the K-League – before an embarrassing 4-0 away loss to Guangzhou.

Muscat’s men pulled off a credible 1-1 draw against their Chinese opponents on Wednesday to restore some pride, but it matters little

Part of the problem could lie in the AFC Champions League not emphasised enough in Australia – seen as more of an afterthought than a prestigious competition.

While big losses in Asia usually result in fingers being pointed towards the salary cap and youth development but as we know, these issues cannot be fixed overnight.

The teams need greater incentive to be part of the AFC Champions League, which at the moment is difficult given it often means balancing it with the finals series.

The AFC Champions League increases in prestige every season, with the continent attracting quality players from around the world.

While the A-League cannot match most teams in this area, more emphasis needs to be placed on playing to our strengths and succeeding in a competition we continue to under-perform in.

Featured Image: Ngau Kai Yan

 

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RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.