Sydney FC ready for Asian Champions League action

Sydney FC has named a 26-man squad its supremo, Graham Arnold, believes gives the reigning A-League champions a fighting chance to claim the 2018 AFC Champions League title. The Sky Blues’ Asian campaign begins at Allianz Stadium against K-League outfit, Suwon Samsung Bluewings on Wednesday night (14th February). The Sky Blues have named 20 members of the current Hyundai A-League squad, including overseas stars Milos Ninkovic, Adrian Mierzejewski and Bobô, as well as six players from the Sky Blues Foxtel National Youth League side. “I believe we have an excellent squad, a good draw and a great chance of success in the competition,” said Head Coach Graham Arnold. “Our aim is to go further than we have before and to produce even greater results. It is going to be an exciting journey for the club and one we are looking forward to.” Tough Decision Under Asian Football Confederation rules Sydney FC may choose only three players whose nationality is from outside the AFC Member States, meaning Dutchman Jordy Buijs and Portugese winger Fabio Ferreira who was signed to play A-League only, will sit out of the initial stage of the tournament. “All four of our overseas signings (Ninkovic, Bobô, Mierzejewski and Buijs) have been outstanding for us this season and all four deserve to be playing in the tournament,” said Arnold. “Making this decision has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a coach and it is one of the toughest selections I will ever have to make. “Jordy is a fantastic player for our club and has been central to our Hyundai A-League and FFA Cup successes over the last year. “He has a huge part to play in ensuring we continue our domestic dominance and retain our Premiers Plate and Champions trophies.” Sky Blues defender Jordy Buijs said: “I understand how tough this decision is. I am disappointed, because I had a big drive to play in the Champions League. I am still fully committed to my team mates and I want to help them continue our success this season. “We have a fantastic squad who will perform to their best in Asia and I will be fully behind them. “I am still determined to perform in the A-League and win a second Premiers Plate and Championship for my club, my team-mates and most importantly my fans.” Sydney FC will face Chinese giants Shanghai Shenhua, Japanese club Kashima Antlers as well as Suwon in six group games over the course of the next ten weeks. The Sky Blues can name up to 30 players in their squad and have included young players Tom Heward-Belle, Jeremy Cox, William Mutch, Patrick Flottman, Marco Tilio and Jackson Bandiera in the 26. However, the club will be able to update its squad later this year once they progress past the round of 16. Sydney FC 2018 AFC Champions League squad and fixtures You can check out details of Sydney FC’s upcoming AFC Champions League fixtures and squad listing at the AFC’s official website – CLICK HERE.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 10: Bobô of Sydney FC and Luke Brattan of Melbourne City fight for the ball during the round 20 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 10, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Witte/Getty Images)

Sydney on high for Asian campaign kick off The Sky Blues delivered their second masterclass in as many weeks on the weekend, thumping their sky blue southern counterparts, Melbourne City, 4-0 in yet another reminder of the Sky Blues’ machine-like class. The league leaders were at their clinical best at Melbourne’s AAMI Park as they go 12 points clear at the top. Two goals to striker Bobô showcased the league-leaders’ class in the front third, while Sydney FC’s defence was at its mean best to register another clean sheet. “Melbourne City started well and through everything at us in first 20 minutes. After we addressed some things at half time, I thought we played a very controlled second half,” Sydney FC head coach Graham Arnold said. “All the boys are excited (about the Asian Champions League). The focus was on winning against Melbourne but we’ll get the boys back home and get ready for Wednesday night.” After absorbing a barrage of City attacks, Arnie’s men took the lead via Bobô from the spot with Ninkovic making it two for the Sky Blues with yet another fantastic goal close to half time. It was much of the same in the second half as Bobô got his second before Mierzejewski wrapped up the three points ten minutes from time. The Brazilian’s second goal sets a new record for the quickest player to reach the 20-goal mark in an A-League season. Bobô’s brace saw him break an A-League record, reaching 20 goals in a season quicker than any other player – with 20 goals from 20 games.