Sydney FC’s path to the group stage of the AFC Champions League has become clearer after Chinese Super League Club Changchun Yatai FC withdrew from this year’s competition.
In a statement from the AFC this afternoon, the Chinese Football Association confirmed that Changchun Yatai have pulled out.
What this means is Sydney FC will progress to the Group Stage if they beat Filipino side Kaya F.C.–Iloilo next Tuesday night.
So who will be Sydney FC’s opponents should they proceed to the group stage?
The AFC confirmed that all matches will be played in a centralized hub across South East Asia in various cities. Sydney FC’s matches in Group H will be played in Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam.
Group H consists of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from South Korea, Yokohama F Marinos from Japan, and Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are nine-time South Korean Champions and have won the AFC Champions league twice, once in 2006 and again in 2016. Jeonbuk have recently started their domestic campaign and have begun with a win and a draw.
Sydney FC will face a familiar opponent when they take on Japanese powerhouse Yokohama F. Marinos. Steve Corica’s troops faced the Marinos in the 2020 Asian Champions League where they were managed by Australian coach Ange Postecoglou. Postecoglou has now moved on and Yokohama are now coached by Kevin Muscat, a name Sydney fans know well.
The last team in Sydney FC’s group are Vietnamese side Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC from Pleiku. Hoang Anh Gia Lai qualified for the 2022 Group Stage after the V-League season was halted in 2021 due to Covid-19.
As a result, the competition finished as things stood and Hoang Anh Gia Lai sat on top of the V-League ladder which qualified them for this year of the ACL.